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W. T. STACE, B.A. 


Published in Canada by General Publishing Gompany, Ltd., 
30 Lesmill Road, Don Mills, Toronto, Ontario. 

Published in the United Kingdom by Conetable*and Gompany, Ltd., 
10 Orange Street, London WC 2. 

This Dover edition, first published in 1955, is an un- 
abridged and unaltered republication of the work originally 
published in 1924 by Macmillan & Co., Inc. This edition is 
published by special arrangement with the author. 

Standard Book Number: 486-20254-2 
Library of Congress Catalog Card Number: 55-1374 

Manufactured in the United States of America 


180 Varick Street 
New York, N. Y. 10014 


The primary object of this book is to place in the hands of 
the philosophical student a complete exposition of the system 
of Hegel in a single volume. No book with a similar purpose, 
so far as I know, exists in our language. There are several 
books which expound, in more or less detail, the Logic. There 
are several books dealing with special aspects of Hegel, his 
ethics, his aesthetics, and so on. There are a number of books 
which set forth the general principles of his philosophy with- 
out entering upon the detailed deductions. And there are 
many books of criticism. The English reader, even by study- 
ing all these expository or critical books, cannot get a complete 
and connected view of the system. And if, eschewing ex- 
positors and commentators, he turns to the writings of Hegel 
himself, he is faced with the task of mastering at least ten or 
twelve appallingly difficult volumes before he can gain any 
adequate idea of the whole doctrine. (And even then, of 
course, he has read nothing like the whole of Hegel's works.) 
The present volume contains, in Part I., an explanation of 
general principles, and in the subsequent parts it sets forth 
the detailed deductions of the entire system with the excep- 
tion of the philosophy of nature, of which only a short general 
account is given. This exception is justified by special reasons 
which are stated in their appropriate place. 1 What they 
amount to is that no ordinary student requires a knowledge 
of the details of the philosophy of nature, which are out of 
date and valueless. 

The position of Hegelian studies at our universities seems 
to me very unsatisfactory. The student who has taken an 

J §435- 



honours degree in philosophy usually has a very considerable 
knowledge of Kant based upon actual study of Kant's writings. 
But he has little knowledge of Hegel beyond general ideas 
picked up in lectures. This is not to be wondered at. For 
the undergraduate's time is insufficient to carry him through 
any considerable portion of Hegel's works. And there exists 
no book giving a satisfactory exposition of the whole system 
in a reasonable compass. If- the present book can remedy this 
state of affairs, its existence will at least have been justified. 

The book is, therefore, primarily an exposition. But it is 
also critical. Exposition involves interpretation, and inter- 
pretation merges into criticism. In addition to this, I have 
included in many places criticisms upon the details of HegeFs 
deductions. I have not carried out such criticism systemati- 
cally, as has been done, for example (for the Logic only), in 
Dr. McTaggart's Commentary on HegeVs Logic. Such a pro- 
cedure would make a book which has to take in the whole 
system far too long, and would also entirely alter its general 
character. My guiding principle has been to include only such 
criticisms as seemed necessary to give the student an intelligent 
understanding of Hegel. Consequently, where I have merely 
stated Hegel's argument and left it without comment, it does 
not follow that I regard the argument as above criticism. 
Part III., which deals with the philosophy of nature, is no 
doubt more critical and less expository than the other'parts. 
This was unavoidable. The character of Hegel's passage from 
Logic to nature has always been profoundly obscure, and is 
the point against which the most determined attacks upon 
Hegel have been directed. I could not rest satisfied with the 
views expressed by a host of critics from Schelling to Professor 
Pringle-Pattison, which have now become common. And I 
had, therefore, to work out my own solution. 

The difficulty of Hegel's writings is notorious. And, there- 
fore, I have aimed especially at lucidity. The student who 
cannot read Hegel's own works will find here, I hope, all 
Hegel's essential thoughts stated as easily and simply as is 
possible. And if the student who is prepared to labour at 
the actual text of Hegel will read this book side by side with 



Hegel's own deductions, he will, I trust, find that many of 
his difficulties are cleared up. But there are two ways in 
which the simplification of difficult thought may be attempted. 
The first is to think it out clearly and to the bottom, and then 
set it down in lucid language. The second is to avoid and 
leave out difficult conceptions, or to slur them over, or to rob 
them of their profundity, making them shallow on the pretext 
of making them easy. I have set before me as my ideal the 
former of these two methods, and have eschewed the latter. 
Whether I have succeeded in this or not is, of course, not for 
me to judge. 

Modern writers have dwelt more especially upon the episte- 
mological aspect of the Logic, and have tended to relegate its 
ontological aspect to the background. If, in the present book, 
I have re-emphasised the ontology of the Logic, it is for two 
reasons. Firstly, it seems to me that the ontological side was 
very prominent in Hegel's own mind, and I have conceived it 
to be my duty to try and present his philosophy as he himself 
thought it. This is mere historical truthfulness. Secondly, 
even if ontological enquiries are somewhat at a discount in the 
general esteem at the moment, yet this cannot remain so for 
long. The desire to penetrate beyond appearance to the inner 
reality of things is a permanent trait and an ineradicable 
demand of the human spirit. 

My treatment of pre-Hegelian philosophers, especially the 
Greeks, demands a word of explanation. I have everywhere 
been intent, not on these earlier philosophers themselves, but 
on the way in which they affected Hegel, and on what Hegel 
found in them as material for his own system. Consequently, 
it is the Hegelian view of them which has necessarily been 
presented. Whether this view is always historically correct 
is another question. Modern Greek scholarship has made 
some inroads upon the older views. And even as regards 
Kant and the famous thing-in-itself, it may be that other 
interpretations and estimates, with which I am not here con- 
cerned, are possible. 

The compression of a great teacher's thought into a small 
compass necessarily involves some measure of injustice to him. 



I am especially conscious of this, in the present case, in the 
spheres of the philosophy of art and the philosophy of religion. 
Here Hegel has left behind him such an immense body of 
matter that the brief chapters in which I have had perforce 
to summarise it, while they do, I think, embody all the essential 
principles, can give little idea of the vast fields which Hegel 
covered, the profuse wealth of his concrete illustrations, the 
enormous learning which he brought to bear upon these studies, 
the profundity and breadth of his vision. 

The arrangement of the categories in the larger Science of 
Logic differs very considerably from that given in the first 
part of the Encyclopaedia of the Philosophical Sciences. I have 
followed the Encyclopaedia. 

Numbers in brackets appearing in the text thus (247), refer 
the reader to the numbered paragraphs of the book. 

Thick black type has been used for the names of categories 
in the Logic and for the names of 4 notions ' in the philosophy 
of spirit at that point where they first definitely emerge in the 
course of the logical deduction as fully completed categories 
or notions — that is to say, at the point where the deduction 
of them is finished. Elsewhere the names appear in ordinary 
print. This should assist the reader to distinguish clearly 
between the actual deduction and such further explanations, 
subsidiary remarks, comments, etc., as it has been found 
desirable to make. 

I am indebted, directly or indirectly, to the majority of 
commentators on Hegel. But in especial am I indebted to 
my own teacher, Professor H. S. Macran of Trinity College, 
Dublin, whose lectures were to me, in my student days, 
nothing less than an inspiration. 

W. T. S. 

19th September, 1923. 



Preface v 

List of Abbreviations xi 



I. Greek Idealism and Hegel 3-31 

A. Eleaticism and Hegel - 4 

B. Plato and Hegel 7 

C. Aristotle and Hegel 18 

D. Results 30 

II. Modern Philosophy and Hegel - 32-49 

A. Spinoza and Hegel 32 

B. Hume and Kant ------- 34 

C. The Onward March from Kant 43 

D. Criticism of the Conception of the Unknowable - 45 

III. Hegel --------- -50-119 

A. Explanation : Cause : Reason 50 

B. Reason as the Universal 55 

C. Reason as self-determined 57 

D. Pure Thought 60 

E. Being and Knowing 69 

F. Monism and the Deduction of the Categories - 78 

G. Which is the First Category ? 84 

H. The Dialectic Method 88 

I. The Dialectic Method (continued) 98 

J. Divisions of the System 115 


Introduction - - - - 123 

First Division. The Doctrine of Being - - 134-174 

Introduction 134 

Chapter I. Quality 135 

Chapter II. Quantity 154 

Chapter III. Measure 167 



Second Division. The Doctrine of Essence - - 175-220 

Introduction - - - - 175 

Chapter I. Essence as Ground of Existence - - - 182 

Chapter II. Appearance 198 

Chapter III. Actuality - 211 

Third Division. The Doctrine of the Notion - 221-294 

Introduction - - - 221 

Chapter I. The Subjective Notion - - - - 226 
Chapter II. The Object, or the Objective Notion - - 262 
Chapter III. The Idea 277 

The Philosophy of Nature 297-317 

Introduction 321 

First Division. Subjective Spirit - 325-373 

Introduction 325 

Chapter I. Anthropology. The Soul - 328 
Chapter II. Phenomenology. Consciousness - - 339 
Chapter III. Psychology. Mind 361 

Second Division. Objective Spirit .... 374-438 

Introduction 374 

Chapter I. Abstract Right 381 

Chapter II. Morality 393 

Chapter III. Social Ethics 404 

Third Division. Absolute Spirit - 439-518 
Introduction -------- - 439 

Chapter I. Art - 443 

Chapter II. Religion 484 

Chapter III. Philosophy 515 

Index - 519 

Diagram of the Hegelian System 


Phil, of Mind 

Phil, of Right 

Wal., Log. 






Schw. Handbook of 
the H. of Ph. 


Hegel's Philosophy of Mind, tr. William Wal- 
lace, Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1894. 

Hegel's Philosophy of Right, tr. Dyde, London, 

The Encyclopaedia of the Philosophical Sciences. 

The Logic of Hegel, tr. William Wallace, Clar- 
endon Press, Oxford, 1892. 

Hegel's Phenomenology of Mind, tr. Baillie, 
London, 1910. 

The Philosophy of Fine Art, by Hegel, tr. 
Osmaston, London, 1920. 

Hegel's Doctrine of Formal Logic, by H. S. 
Macran, Clarendon Press, Oxford, 191 2. 

What is Living and What is Dead of the Philo- 
sophy of Hegel, by Benedetto Croce, tr. 
Ainslie, London, 191 5. 

Studies in Hegelian Dialectic, McTaggart, Cam- 
bridge, 1896. 

A Commentary on HegeVs Logic, McTaggart, 
Cambridge, 191 o. 

The Secret of Hegel, Stirling, London, 1865. 

Schwegler's Handbook of the History of Philo- 

Zusatze, i.e. Hegel's lecture notes and addenda 
annexed to Hegel's text by his editors. In 
Wal., Log., those are given in smaller print, 
and the references in the present book should 
be read thus: Wal., Log. §163, Z.= the smaller 
print at end of § 163. 

The names of books, other than the above, given in the text or 
references, appear in full unabbreviated. 




I. Hegel claims that the substance of all previous philoso- 
phies is contained, preserved, and absorbed, in his own system. 
But there are two influences upon him which far outweigh 
in importance all the others. These are the idealism of the 
Greeks and the critical philosophy of Kant. The funda- 
mental principles of Hegel are the fundamental principles 
of the Greeks and of Kant. And our object in this and the 
next chapter will be to extricate these principles from the 
earlier thinkers. It is not our intention to expound Plato, 
Aristotle, or Kant. We assume that the main outlines of 
their teachings are already known. Not what is stated by 
them expressly, but what is implicit in them, what Hegel 
discovered as the underlying substratum of them beneath the 
surface, — this it is our aim to set forth. We do not wish — 
so far as it can be avoided — to state over again what can 
be found in any competent history of philosophy. We have 
no academic penchant for treating things historically. But 
it will be found that the fundamental philosophical basis of 
Hegel is the same as the historical basis. We shall try to 
inflict upon the reader as little as possible of the lumber of 
historical learning or the familiar gossip of the professorial 

41 What Hegel proposes to give," says Wallace," is no novel 
or special doctrine, but the universal philosophy which has 
passed on from age to age, here narrowed and there widened, 
but still essentially the same. It is conscious of its continuity 
and proud of its identity with the teachings of Plato and 



Aristotle." 1 What, then, is this one universal philosophy ? 
Evidently it is not simply the philosophy of Plato, nor yet 
simply the philosophy of Aristotle. The systems of these 
men are but special presentations of the one universal philo- 
sophy, special forms which it assumed in their hands, in the 
particular age and circumstances in which they lived. It 
is to be found in them as the inner essence of their thought. 
It is what they held in common, to which each added special 
points of view of his own. This underlying substance will 
be the substance of Hegel also. 

2. We shall begin, however, not with Plato and Aristotle, 
but with the Eleatics. For even here, important determina- 
tions of the one universal philosophy are to be found, — 
embedded beneath the dim gropings of Parmenides and Zeno. 

A. Eleaticism and Hegel. 

As everyone knows, the Eleatics denied the reality of 
becoming, or change, and of multiplicity. The sole reality, 
they said, is Being. Being alone veritably is Vr Becoming 
is not at all. It is illusion. And Being is One . Only the 
One is. The many is not. It also is illusion. Jhe illusory 
world of becoming and multiplicity is th e world of sense. 
It is this ordinary world that is known to us through our 
eyes and ears and hands, — through sensation generally. 
True Being is apprehended only by the eve of r eason^ It is 
not known to the senses. It cannot be seen, touched^ felt. 
It is neither here nor there, neither then nor i^gw . Only 
by thought, reason, can we reach it. It is true that Par- 
menides incongruously said that Being is globe-shaped and 
occupies space. And this implies that it is material and so 
ought to be perceptible by the senses. But this is merely 
one of the crudities natural to primitive thinking. Par- 
menides could not help trying to frame a pictorial image of 
Being, and all such images must necessarily be thought of 
as having some shape. And so Parmenides fell into this 
inconsistency. But the opposite thought, that Being is 

l Phil. of Mind, p. 9. 



nowhere and no when, that it is not an object of sense, is the 
real inner teaching of the Eleatics. 1 

Now this clearly marked distinction between sensation 
and reason, and this assertion that reality is apprehended by 
the latter and not by the former, is a characteristic of all 
idealism of the Greek type. It is part of the one universal 
philosophy. It is just as much Hegelian as Eleatic. It is 
true that this absolute separation between the true and the 
false, between reason and sense, would be repudiated by 
Hegel. For him even the sense-world has a truth of its own. 
But this is an Hegelian modification of the one universal 
philosophy with which we are not yet ready to deal. 

3. What meaning are we to attribute to the Eleatic asser- 
tion that the world of sensuous objects is unreal ? Our 
question is not what meaning the Eleatics themselves under- 
stood it to have, but what meaning we can attribute to it. 
It may well be that the Eleatics themselves, in these their 
primitive gropings, understood very little of what was implied 
in their own dim ideas. But the implications, the thoughts 
which lay wrapped up, implicit, hidden away, — unseen 
perhaps by the Eleatics themselves, — these are what are 
valuable to us. 

Multiplicity and motion, then, and the sense-world of which 
they are the main characteristics, are unreal. What does 
this mean ? *Does it mean that the sense-world, multiplicity 
and motion, are not there, do not exist ? If motion is illusory, 
does this mean that an express train from London to Bristol 
does not move, that at the end of its journey it is still in 
J-ondon ? If multiplicity is unreal, if Being is an absolute 
unity, does this mean that, when we suppose ourselves to 
have twenty sovereigns, the truth is that we have only one ? 
Manifestly this is nonsense. To say, in this sense, that the 
world of sense does not exist, has no meaning. No sane 
person ever denied that things, this table, that hat, exist. 
Berkeley is popularly supposed to have propounded the 

1 In my Critical History of Greek Philosophy, pp. 46-52, I have given in 
full my reasons for disagreeing with the opinion of Professor Burnet that 
Parmenides was essentially a materialist. I need not repeat them here. 



absurd opinion that matter does not exist. Doctor Johnson, 
hearing this, proceeded to refute it by kicking a stone with 
his foot. Doctor Johnson generally gets the credit of being 
a stupid Philistine who did not understand philosophy. But 
the fact is that, if Berkeley had really propounded the insane 
opinion attributed to him, Doctor Johnson's refutation would 
have been conclusive and final. The views which Berkeley 
actually did express — and which no amount of mere kicking 
can refute — were these, that matter exists only in and for our 
minds and the mind of God, that its essence consists in its 
being perceived, and that there is beneath its visible and 
tangible appearance no unknown and unknowable substratum. 
That the material world does not exist at all, that is to say, 
is not there, no sane human being has ever, so far as I know, 
had the hardihood to affirm. 1 Obviously, the material world 
is there, — as Doctor Johnson proved. You may, if you like, 
call it a dream, or an illusion, or an appearance. But still 
the dream, the illusion, the appearance, is there. It quite 
certainly exists. 

But if the Eleatic philosophy does not mean that the exter- 
nal world does not exist, it does mean that the external world 
is not the true being, is not real. Clearly, therefore, there 
is implied in this philosophy a distinction between reality 
and existence. Whatever exists, elephants, comets, multi- 
plicity, motion, is mere appearance. Only Being is real . 
But Being does not exist h For it is nowhere and nowhen. 
And whatever exists must at least exist at some time, if no t 
at some place . And we may sum up these results in two 
propositions. Firstly, existence is not real. Second ly r what y 
real dge$ not exitf. These propositions, we say, are implied 
in Eleaticism. It is not, of course, to be supposed that the 
Eleatics themselves would or could have used such language. 

This result sounds paradoxical. That existence is not 
real, — this is just supportable. Anyone who knows that, 
according to the Hindus, the existing world is Maya, illusion, 
is familiar with this thought. But that what is real does not 
exist, — that seems intolerable. We suspect that we are being 

1 Unless it were Gorgias ! And Gorgias was perhaps partly a jester. 


made the dupes of words, that this is one of those everlasting 
quibbles which metaphysicians — etc. Yet we must leave the 
matter here for the moment. These difficulties will be cleared 
up shortly. What we have now to note is that the result we 
have reached, however it is to be explained, is of vital moment 
for the understanding of Plato, Aristotle, and Hegel. 1 It, is 
part of the one universal philosophy. Three-quarters of the 
failures to understand Hegel are due to the fact that this is 
not understood. 

B. Plato and Hegel. 

4/ There is much dispute nowadays as to what is the true 
interpretation of Plato's philosophy, and even as to whether 
what has always been known as Plato's philosophy was not 
really the work of Socrates. With none of these disputes are 
we in any wise concerned. The view of Plato which we 
shall take as the basis of our discussion is the traditional 
view. It may or may not be historically correct. That 
question does not concern us because we are attempting to 
understand, not Plato, but Hegel. And it was this traditional 
interpretation of Plato which influenced Hegel. Even if 
what we shall here put forward as the philosophy of Plato 
were to be regarded as a wholly imaginary philosophy, it 
would still be, just the same, one of the foundation stones of 
Hegelian thought. 

5. The Eleatics had' distinguished between appearance and 
reality, between sense and reason. These distinctions held 
their ground till the time of ^Kbtagofas^ whose teaching 
amounted to a denial of them. PimagoraTsaid that whatever 
seems to me true is true for me f and whatever seems to you 
frue is true for you. T]iis imp lies that whatever seems o r 
appears, is the reality, or at least that there is nn other reality 
fchan this seeming or appearanc e. Thus reali ty and appear - 
ance are the same thing. Moreoverj^whatjth^^^ 
to us igjwhat appears. What the senses give usjs». therefore, 

1 But in Hegel it undergoes modification. The actual, for Hegel, is the 
synthesis of what we have here called the real and the existent This will 
be explained in its due place. 



the truth, the reality. Since whatever seems is true, one 
seeming Is as good as another. What seems to my senses to 
be true is quite as much the truth as what may seem to me 
true after I have applied my reason to these sense-data. 
Hence reason adds _nothing to QV r - knP^Hg.^ of reality. 
Realit y is giv en through ^sgjisati on. Knowledge is sense- 
distinction between sense and reason, or 
at any rate Hie value of the distinction, disappears with the 
disappearance of the distinction between appearance and 

6. In order to refute this doctrine, which practically involves 
the denial of all values, Plato undertook the analysis of sensa- 
tion. He showed that mere sensation is so far from giving us 
knowledge that it can barely give us consciousness of any 
sort, that even the knowledge of my own sensations, as when 
I say " I am warm," implies organs of knowledge which have 
nothing in common with the physical senses. 

Suppose I know that my body feels warm. I can only 
\expres§)this in the form " my body is warm," i.e., in the form 
oFIT proposition. Even if I do not say it, but only think it, 
it must still take that form. But how do I know that what 
feels warm is a body ? And how do I know that what it 
feels is warmth ? I can only know that my body is a body 
because I have seen other bodies before, and can compare it 
with them, and find it is like them ; and because I see that it 
is unlike other objects, such as houses, trees, or triangles. And 
I only know that what I feel is warmth because I compare 
it with previous similar sensations, and contrast it with other 
sensations such as those of redness, hardness, sweetness, or 

Now this implies classification. The word 11 body " stands 
for a class of objects, and the word " warmth " stands for a 
class of sensations. Thus ideas of classes, that is to say, 
concepts, are involved even in the most sensuous knowledge. 
Every word in every language, — except perhaps proper names, 
which are said to have no connotation, — connotes a concept. 
For there are not only concepts of substantive things, but 
also concepts of qualities, actions, relations. " To give " is a 


concept, for it describes a whole class of actions. 11 This " 
is a concept, since it applies, not only to one individual 
thing, but to all things. Everything is a 44 this." 44 Is " is 
a concept, since all things 44 are." 44 In " is a concept, for it 
expresses an entire class of relations. There are no words in 
any language which do not stand for concepts. Thus nat 
merely some knowledge, but all knowledge, is conceptual. 
Hence from bare sensation, as such, no knowledge can arise. 
Qoncepts are not perceived bv the senses T but are the work o f 
the mind which compar es, contrasts, and classifies what the 
senses give it. 

ffie can know nothing whatever of any object except the, 
concepts which apply to it. No matter what we say of an 
object, what we say consists in asserting that such and such a 
concept applies to it. For yhatever we say is a. word, and 
£verv word stands for a concep t. I say that this object before 
me is a white, oblong, soft, material, solid, useful thing called 
paper. All these predicates are concepts. But if such is the 
nature of my knowledge of the paper, what is the paper 
itself ? A concept is not a particular thing : it is a genera l 
class ; it is a 44 universa l." All I can know of the paper is 
that such and such universals, or concepts, apply to it, or, in 
other words, that it belongs to such and such general classes. 
It is oblong, soft, white, i.e. it belongs to those classes. Then 
what is " it " ? It belongs to various classes, but there must, 
one would think, be a "something" which belongs to these 
classes, just as, in order to have motion, one supposes there 
must be something to move. What is this 44 it," apart from 
the classes to which it belongs ? Obviously, if there is any 
44 it," we cannot know it. It must remain for ever unknow- 
able to us. For all our knowledge is conceptual, i.e. is a 
knowledge of classes. Therefore anything apart from classes, 
such as this 44 it," cannot be known. But it is perfectly gratui- 
tous to assume the existence of that of which we have, and 
can have, no knowledge. For if it did exist we could not know 
it. And therefore to affirm its existence is to affirm some- 
thing of which we have no knowledge, something which, 
accordingly, we can have no possible grounds for affirming. 


It would seem, therefore, that there is no 44 it," even that such 
an " it " is an inconceivable and self-contradictory thought ; 
for every thought is conceptual, is the thought of a class, 
and the 14 it " in itself cannot be thought, and is therefore 
strictly unthinkable. There is no 44 it." The entire nature 
of this piece of paper lies in the fact that it belongs to various 
classes. The classes alone are real. The paper is simply 
a congeries of concepts or universals. There is nothing else 
in it. Hence if we admit that the pajxer is not a mere figment 
of my imagination, that it exists outside my mind, it^will^ 
follow that concepts or universals likewise exist on their own 
account, objectively . independent of my, or any other, mind. 
These obje ctive universals are called b y Plato Ide^ . 

It would seem that nothing is real except universals. ft 
is true that Plato spoilt the consistency of this theory by 
admitting the existence of what he called 44 matter," a form-^ 
less, indefinite, substrate of things. This matter is simply 
the unknowable 44 it." He failed to see that 44 matter " is 
itself a universal. He admitted the existence of the 41 it." 
But with this side of his theory we are not here concerned. 

7. At the present time there is a school of philosophers, 
the New Realists, who admit the reality, or the 44 subsist- 
ence," of universals, but insist that they are not 14 mental." 
According to this view it would be wrong to speak of them as 
objective concepts. And even the traditional Platonic 44 Ideas " 
are now, by these philosophers, designated 14 forms." It 
is doubtful whether there is anything here but a dispute 
about terminology. By saying that universals are not 
44 mental " they appear to mean that they are not the thoughts 
of any individual mind, mine or yours or God's, but that they 
44 subsist " independently of minds. This is, of course, just 
what Plato, Aristotle, Hegel, and all idealists, mean. Whether 
we say, in the language of idealism, that universals are objec- 
tive, not subjective, thoughts, or in the phraseology of new 
realism, that they are not 44 mental," i.e. not subjective, 
does not seem to matter. 1 

8. According to Plato, at any rate, universals are real, are 

1 But on this question see also §§ 33, 34 below. 


objective. It is not merely I who classify objects. The 
classes themselves have a being independent of my mind . 
What is real in the sense-object is the universals. But g fche 
^source through which we receive knowledge of universals is^ 
not sensation, but reason. For sensation cannot give us 
concepts. Concepts are formed by abstracting, by reasoning. 
Therefore reason is the source of truth, sensation the source of 
error. Sensation gives us the world of sense, the world of 
particular objects, and this is the false world. What is alone 
genuinely real is universals, and we^know of these through 
reason. Sensation gives us appearance; reason gives u s 

9. Thus not only are the distinctions between sense and 
reason, appearance and reality, — which are part of the one 
universal philosophy — reasserted. But we have now arrived 
at a further point. And this is the essential determination 
of the universal philosophy, namely, tha t the real is the 
universal. This is the central and distinctive doctrine Of all" 
idealism, 1 whether it be that of Plato, of Aristotle, or of Hegel. 

10. This conclusion throws a great deal of light upon the 
seeming paradox to which Eleaticism led us, — that the real 
does not exist. For the re pi nrt w thfr l,miYP rco1 And the 
universal cannot be said to exist. White things exist, but not 
" whiteness " itself. There are in existence chestnut horses, 
white horses, black horses, race horses, cart horses. But 
where is the universal " horse, 1 ' the horse in general ? To 
exist means to exist at some specific space or time. But not 
by searching all space shall we find " whiteness " quartered 
in any part of it. And not by ransacking all time shall we 
find the universal horse that is neither chesnut nor white nor 
black, neither a racehorse nor a cart horse, but simply 14 horse." 
The universal, then, is neither in place nor in time. It is no- 
where and nowhen. And to say that something is nowhere and 
nowhen is the same as saying that it does not exist. We may 
put the same thing in another form by saying tha t to exist 
"i^ nc to Tv* an individual existent Whatever exists is an 

1 Of course, I do not include here the subjective idealism of Berkeley. 
The sense of the word idealism is there quite different. 


individual. But the unive rsal is just that: wfrirh is ii nt 
individual. The universal, therefore, does not exist. It is, 
6f course, no answer to say that the universal exists in time 
in the form of a concept in the stream of human consciousness. 
We are not speaking of concepts, subjective universals, but 
of objective universals which we have found to be the essence 
of reality and to have a being independent of minds. 

1 1 . We can now see a little deeper into the Eleatic position. 
Being is real, but it is nowhere and nowhen. It does not 
exist. This is possible because Being is a universal. It is 

Wha t all things in ^nmmnn y^r nil tlnnpc^*" -lVft ST 

feeing" js the " isness " which is common to all things., 
1 Whiteness 5 is not here or there, then or now, is not any- 
thing individual, and so does not exist. The same is true of 
Being. It is not any particular being, such as this horse or 
that tree. It is Being in general, — a universal. It is not to 
be supposed that the Eleatics themselves understood this. 
Yet they were groping for it. Even Plato himself did not get 
so far as definitely saying that universals, the Ideas, do not 
exist. But he said that the Ideas are not in space or time. 
And that amounts to the same thing. 

12. The one universal philosophy holds then that the uni- 
versal is the real, and that the real does not' exist. This is 
now, to some extent, intelligible. But not fully so. What is 
still wanting is that we should have clear definitions of the 
words reality and existence. We will begin by getting a 
clear idea of the distinction between reality and appearance. 
It may occur to someone to say that this distinction is on the 
face of it an absurd one. For an appearance also is real. 
Even a dream is real. It exists in the mind just as certainly 
as elephants exist in the world. It is a real thing. Now this 
is true. But it will at once be seen, from this very example, 
that we do, even in common speech, — apart from meta- 
physics altogether — make a distinction between reality and 
appearance, and this must surely have some meaning, some 
foundation. A dream, a delusion, we say, is unreal. Now 
it is quite easy to see what is meant by this. A real mountain 
is one which exists independently of us. A dream-mountain 


is called unreal because it does not exist independently of the 
dreamer. It is produced in some way by him, by his brain. 
And in the same way we say that a shadow is unreal. The 
shadow really exists. But popular thought conceives that 
the object which throws the shadow exists on its own account, 
independently, whereas the existence of the shadow is depend- 
ent on the object which throws it. And so we say that the 
object is real, the shadow unreal. 

These popular distinctions are vaguely conceived. But 
they contain the germ of the philosophic distinction between 
appearance and reality. The philosophic thought is only the 
clear and consistent development of the popular thought. 
Reality, in the jphilosop hic sense^ is that w hich has a wholly, 
.independent being, a being of its own, nn Its own arpnnnf 
which does not owe its being to anything else. ^Afipe^rj^nce^ 
is that whichhas^nni y a^Hepen dent being. 1 Its being flows 
into it from something else which is itself an independent 
being, a reality. It will be noticed that we do not speak of 
dependent and independent existence here. We do not use 
the word existence, but the word being. This is merely be- 
cause we have already assigned another meaning to the word 
11 existence." We have seen that the real has no existence. 
We cannot therefore define it as that which has independent 
existence. This raises a fresh problem, namely, the nature 
of the distinction between " existence " and u being." The 
question is, what sort of being have universals, if they have 
not existence ? We shall solve this question shortly. 

13. Meanwhile we come to another point. Appearance 
is that which depends on the reality. Its being arises out of, 
is in some way produced by, the reality. Hence if we say 
that the universal is the real, and that the world of sense is 
appearance, it then becomes incumbent upon us to show that 
the universal produces the world of sense. This is precisely 
why Plato tried to show that the Ideas are the beings which 
actually produce the world, that they are the primordial 

1 These views are common to most idealistic philosophies. The special 
Hegelian doctrine of appearance involves these views, but advances beyorgl 
them and more completely analyses the notion of appearance. Hegel's 
definitions will be found in §§ 271 to 273 below. 


foundation and cause of all things. The conception of reality 
necessarily involves this. If something in the universe is 
real, and all else is appearance, then this means that that 
reality produces this appearance. For the one universal 
philosophy the real is the universal. Hence we now get a 
further determination of the universal philosophy, namely, 
that the universal is that absolute and ultimate being which is 
the foundation of all things, which produces the world out of 
itself. For it must be remembered that, according to this 
philosophy, not only does the real not exist, but, further, 
what exists is not real. Hence whatever exists, i.e. the 
whole universe, is appearance, and arises out of the universal. 

14. We have now got clear conceptions of reality and 
appearance, and it only remains to gain a similarly cleaf 
conception of " existence." Such a conception is implicit 
in what has already been said. Only that exists which is a 
particular thing, an individual. " Whiteness " does not 
exist because it is not an individual object. But my white 
hat exists because it is an, individual object. This also 
implies that existence appertains solely to time or space or 
both. For an individual thing must exist at least at some 
definite time, and if it is a material thing it must also exist at 
some definite place. Another way of expressing the same 
thought is to say that only that exists which is, or might be, 
an immediate presentation to consciousness. For what exists 
at a specific place or time is there, is present. These remarks 
apply, of course, just as much to psychic as to material entities. 
A dream, a feeling, or a thought, is there. It exists at a 
definite time in the stream of conscious states. And it is an 
individual thing. It is this particular feeling, this thought, 
this dream. 

15. According to the universal philosophy all existence is 
appearance. The definitions, i.e. connotations, of the two 
terms existence and appearance, are different. Appearance 
is that which has only a dependent being. Existence is tha t 
yrhich is individual and not universal, is or may be an imme- 
diate presentation to consciousness and is present at som e 
particular p lace or time or both. But the denot ations of the 


two terms are identical. This means that whatever is an 
immediately present individual is a merely dependent being. 
And this follows from the position that the sole reality (inde- 
pendent being) is the universal. 

16. It is undoubtedly implied in this, not only that material 
beings are appearances, but also that psychic entities, such as 
particular thoughts, feelings, volitions, are appearances. 
For all these are individual existences. This is perhaps not 
always realised, and whether Plato himself would have ad- 
mitted it outright may be a matter of doubt If we are asked 
whether such entities as the " soul " are denied reality under 
these determinations we can only reply that, according to 
most idealists, the soul, as distinguished from its particular 
states, feelings, ideas, etc., is not an individual thing, but is 
a universal, and is therefore real. But to discuss the point 
at this stage would take us beyond the immediate purpose of 
this chapter. 

17. That the entire existent world fc appearance may seem 
at first sight to be a conclusion repugnant to the common 
sense of humanity. It may be well, therefore, to show here 
that philosophy is not divorced from the common beliefs of 
mankind. For this very doctrine makes its appearance 
popularly in the religious consciousness. From Christianity 
we understand that God created the world, but that God 
Himself is uncreated and primordial. This means that God 
owes His being to nothing other than Himself, and is there- 
fore real, but that the world owes its existence to God, who is 
the source of its being, and is accordingly an appearance. 
But popular thought seems generally to be affected by a vague 
notion that God, having once created the world and flung 
it spinning into space, left it to assume thereafter a sort of 
independent existence. It goes on by itself without further 
support. This is probably contrary to Christian theology, 
but it seems vaguely to underlie popular consciousness. This 
would explain the repugnance of common sense to the doctrine 
that the world is an appearance. As it is thought to possess 
this kind of half-independent being, it is taken for a reality. 
But the oriental mind thinks otherwise. The Hindu does not 


think that God created the world once and for all, and then 
left it to itself. For him the world is not the creation, but the^ 
manifestation , of God. This conveys the idea that the world 
is, at every moment of its existence, so utterly dependent 
on God that without Him it would collapse. Consequently, 
it appears perfectly natural to the Hindu mind to regard the 
world as appearance, Maya. And lastly, one may reiterate 
that philosophers do not mean by this doctrine anything so 
absurd as the teaching commonly credited to them. They 
do not mean that the world is not there ; or that it does not 
exist. That it exists is an immediate indisputable fact which, 
as we observed before, no sane man could deny. The state- 
ment that the world is an appearance means only that its 
existence is dependent on an ulterior being. 

1 8. Since philosophy recognises that the universal, as the 
real, is the absolute ground of the world, it thereby imposes 
upon itself the task of showing how and why the world arises 
out of this absolute being. Plato clearly recognised this 
obligation and attempted to discharge it. Here, however, 
his philosophy tends to become vague and incoherent. He 
cannot give a rational explanation, and so takes refuge in 
poetical myths and metaphors. With the details of his 
attempt to solve the problem we need not concern ourselves, 
because they are peculiar to himself and form no part of the 
universal philosophy. But the outlines of it are as follows : 
Things in the world are " copies " of universals or Ideas. 
Individual horses are copies of the Idea of the horse. These 
copies are made by the images of the Ideas being stamped 
upon matter by God. This matter is not what we understand 
by the term. It is not iron, hydrogen, brass, etc. . Such 
things have definite form. They are already " things," and 
as such are fully completed copies of Ideas. Plato's matter 
is formless, featureless, indeterminate. It is emptiness. It 
is the formless substrate of things. It is, in fact, the " some 
thing," the " it," which belongs to various classes but is not 
itself any class, and which we saw (6) to be a self-contra- 
dictory and unthinkable thought. We saw that an object, 
such as this paper, is a collection of universals. These 


universals are the classes to which it belongs. But when we 
ask what 41 it, M apart from the universals, is, we find that " it " 
is nothing. Plato, however, regarded this 44 it," this substrate 
of the universals as something really existing, and called it 
matter. Yet he so far recognises the non-existence of the " it M 
that he declared that matter is " not-being." This landed 
him in contradictions. Matter is not-being, nothing. Yet, 
he thinks, it must have been there from eternity in order to 
have the images of the Ideas stamped upon it. It is some- 
thing which has not arisen out of the Ideas, which is equally 
primordial with them, underived, independent, and, there- 
fore, from this point of view, not an absolute not-being, but 
rather an absolute being, a reality. For what is independent 
and is not derived from anything else is a reality. Plato 
did not recognise this latter point of view. If he had he 
would have seen how impossible and self-contradictory his 
conception of matter was. 

19. Another point which it is important for us to notice 
is that Plato apparently believed that the Ideas, the uni- 
versals, had a separate existence of their own in another 
world beyond space and time. The souls of the righteous may 
visit these abodes after death, and actually see the Ideas 
there. Thus the universals of which this paper is composed 
are not merely in the paper, composing it, but exist on their 
own account outside the paper in a world of their own. It is 
a very doubtful point how far this is to be taken literally or 
how far it is mere poetry. But Aristotle, at any rate, thought 
that Plato meant it literally. And it is important for us to 
notice that, if it is taken literally, it involves a departure from, 
even a contradiction of, the universal philosophy. For it 
implies that the Ideas exist ; they exist, that is, in a world of 
their own. But it is essential to the universal philosophy that 
universals, though they are real, do not exist The universal 
is that which is not individual But Plato in this part of his 
philosophy seems to think of the Ideas as individual exis- 
tences in some extra-spatial world. This, of course, is self- 
contradictory. And what it shows is that Plato did not 
keep clearly before him the distinction between reality and 


existence. He began by making that distinction clear — 
though not of course in those words. For he said that the 
sense-world, i.e. existence, is not real ; and that what is real 
is universals which are not in space or time, i.e. do not exist. 
But it seems that he was unable to withstand the inferior 
thought that what is real must somehow exist, and conse- 
quently invented this supramundane world for the Ideas to 
exist in. Perhaps this latter idea is merely poetical. But 
if so, it is very misleading. 

C. Aristotle and Hegel. 

20. According to Aristotle, 44 things " are composed of 
matter and form. Aristotle's matter is the same as Plato's, 
the 44 it," the indefinite substrate of things. His form corre- 
sponds to Plato's Idea. It is the universal But Aristotle 
denied that forms, Ideas, or universals, have a special exis- 
tence of their own in a separate world. They only exist — 
if we are to use the word exist — in things. What, asked 
Aristotle, can be regarded as having separate existence on 
its own account ? Not forms, universals, for these are only 
predicates. The Idea of man is the same as the predicate 
44 humanness." A universal is simply a predicate which is 
common to all the members of a class. The universal, 41 white- 
ness," is the predicate which is common to all white objects. 
And predicates have no existence apart from the subjects of 
which they are predicated. Gold is yellow. But the yellow- 
ness does not exist apart from the gold. We say that some- 
thing is shiny. But we do not conceive that shinyness can 
exist by itself. There must be a something which is shiny. 
Universals, therefore, cannot have a separate existence, as 
Plato thought. But neither does matter exist separately. 
Gold is yellow, heavy, soft, etc. The yellowness, heaviness, 
softness do not exist apart from the gold. But neither can 
the gold exist apart from its qualities. Strip off in thought 
the yellowness, the softness, and all other predicates, and what 
is left ? Nothing at all. The gold, then, apart from its 
predicates, is nothing, does not exist. The substrate, the 



" it," has no being apart from the universals or predicates 
which apply to it. Thus neither matter nor form has a separ- 
ate existence. What alone exists is the gold with all its 
predicates, that is to say, the combination of matter and form, 
the formed 11 thing " — this piece of gold, that bed, this tree, 
that man. Thus Aristotle comes back to the doctrine of the 
universal philosophy that existence means individual exis- 
tence. The universal is still, for Aristotle just as much as 
for Plato, the real. But the universal, the real, does not exist 
Only individual things exist, and these are not universals. 

21. Now this doctrine of Aristotle's, that matter and form 
are inseparable, that neither exists separately from the other, 
throws light upon a problem which we raised in the section on 
Plato but were compelled to leave unsolved. If reality is 
that which has independent 11 being," but which does not 
" exist," what do we mean by such " being " ? What sort 
of being can be attributed to universals if they do not exist ? 
We eannot completely solve this problem at the present point. 
But we can partly solve it. What we now see is that uni- 
versals do not exist but that all existence depends upon them. 
A 41 thing " is a combination of matter and form. Without 
the form, which is the universal, it would be simply matter by 
itself. But matter by itself is nothing, does not exist. There- 
fore without the form or universal the thing would not exist. 
Therefore the existence of the thing depends on the universal. 
It is true that, according to Aristotle, it also depends on the 
matter, but that fact does not affect our present argument. 
The existence of things, then, depends on universals. Without 
them things would not exist. Now we cannot suppose that 
universals, on which the very existence of things depends, 
are nothing, have no being of any sort. We must admit, 
then, that universals have being. But when we deny their 
existence we mean that they cannot stand by themselves, 
that they have no separate existence. If we wish to use the 
word existence of them, we can say, if we like, that they exist 
in things. But they cannot stand alone. This hat exists. 
It is a complete thing. It has an independent existence of 
its own. But a universal, e.g. the whiteness, of the hat, has 


no existence independent of the hat. It is only a factor, 
or element, of the existence of the hat. Considered by itself 
it is an abstraction. We are justified in saying that the 
universal is 9 because without it nothing could be. It has 
being. But it has not existence, because it cannot stand by 
itself, as a stone, or any other existent thing can. 

22. But this seems to involve us in a contradiction. The 
universal is, but it has not an independent being on its own 
account. The individual 11 thing/ 1 on the other hand, exists, 
and by existence, it seems, we mean just that independent 
being which the universal lacks. But we previously came 
to the conclusion that the universal, because it is real, is 
precisely that which has independent being ; whereas every 
existence, because it is merely appearance, has only a depend- 
ent being. Now we shall find that this contradiction is only 
apparent. But in order to explain it we must seek help again 
from Aristotle. 

According to Aristotle the form t the universal, nf a. thing, 
is also its end or purpose . The final cause fend) is identical 
with the formal cause (form). The purpose of a thing may be 
defined as the reason why the thing exists. Thus in saying 
that the form is the same as the end, Aristotle meant that the 
universal is the reason of the thing, the reason why it exists. 
Now the reason of a thing is obviously prior to the thing. The 
thing only comes into existence because of the reason, and 
therefore, after the reason. Thus the end of the thing is 
prior to its beginning. 

23. Now the universal philosophy holds that all individual 
existences are dependent beings ; that only the universal 
has independent being ; and that individual things owe their 
existence to the universal, i.e. that their being is dependent 
upon the universal. But we have not yet asked ourselves 
what kind of dependence and independence is here involved. 
The Aristotelian doctrine just stated gives us the clue to the 
solution of this question. The end of a thing is prior to its 
beginning. This seeming paradox is only rendered intelli- 
gible in one way. The priority spoken of is not time-priority 
but togical priority . In time one event happens after another. 


That which happens first has time-priority over that which 
happens second. In logic, the premises come first, the con- 
clusion second. The premises have logical priority over the 
conclusion. But they have not time-priority. In the relation 
of reason and consequent, the former is logically first, but no 
one would contend that the order in which they occur means 
that the reason is an event which happens in time before the 
consequent. Just in this way, Aristotle means, the end of a 
thing is prior to the thing ; or in general the end of the world- 
process is prior to the world. The end is the purpose. And 
a purpose is logically prior to its execution. As far as human 
purposes are concerned, of course, the purpose has also time- 
priority over its execution, for we must form our purpose 
before we can carry it out. But the world-purpose is not to 
be thought of in this anthropomorphic way. There is, 
according to Aristotle, no mind which consciously designs and 
executes. The world-purpose is immanent in the world itself. 
It is^jiot a psychic event which happens in a mind. It is a 
logical reason. What happens happens for a reason. This 
reason is the purpose of what happens. The events are the 
consequents of the reason, of the purpose. The purpose or 
end, then, is prior to the world, not as its cause in time, but 
as its reason. The principle of form, the universal, is the 
reason, and the world is the consequent. The universal 
is therefore logically prior to things, not prior to them in 

24. The universal is the source of all things, the first prin- 
ciple from which the world arises. It is " before all the 
worlds." But now we see that this does not mean that the 
universal existed at some time in the past before the world 
began. This is in every way impossible. For in the first 
place the universal does not exist at all. And in the second 
place, being timeless, it certainly does not exist in time, 
either now or in the past. We have here a new determination 
of the one universal philosophy, a determination of incalcul- 
able importance. The germ of it is found here in Aristotle's 
conception of the logical priority of the universal. But it is 
only in Hegel that it becomes explicit in the form in which we 


shall now state it, a form in which it goes far beyond Aristotle. 
The universal is the source of all existence. But the depen- 
dence of the world upon the universal is not a causal, but a 
logical, dependence. In other words, the world flows from tfe e 
universal, not as an effect flows from its cause in time, but a.? a 
conclusion flows from its premises^ 

25. These considerations enable us to resolve the apparent 
contradiction noted above and to explain what sort of " being M 
universals have. The universal, we said, must, as real, have 
an independent being of its own. On the other hand it is a 
mere abstraction. It has no existence apart from the indi- 
vidual things in which it is realised, and from that point of 
view its being seems to be dependent on the things. Now, 
however, we see that the universal is the absolute first of all 
things, not in the sense of having existed before them, but 
only in the sense of being logically first. This means that it is 
logically dependent on nothing before it. Its independence is 
a logical independence. It is not a conclusion from . any 
prior reason. It is the first reason. " Things " are its logical 
consequences. The universal is not in fact separable from 
things. But it is separable in thought. It is logically sepa r- 
ate, logically independen t. The answer to>the question wjiat 
sort of being universals have, apart from t hings, is that thev 
have logical being. But things have factuq\ being. ( existent 
being. And the supposed contradiction is thSs resolved. For 
the universal has independent being in the sense that its being 
is logically independent of things, i.e. is separable from things 
in thought, and is logically prior to them. It has a dependen t 
being in the sense that, if it is to cease to be an abstraction, 
if it is to enter as a component part into actual existence, 
it can only do so, it can only become a fact, in combination 
with the particular. Its logical beinef is independent . Its 
factual being is dep endent. 

26. If this still seems strange, the following consideration 
may assist the reader. The universal is the source of the 
world, not in the sense of being a thing which existed before 
the world, but in the sense of being the reason of the world. 
Now even in every-day matters everyone would admit that 


the reason of a thing is a reality, yet no one would attribute 
existence to it. The reason why an artist paints a picture 
is for the sake of its beauty. This beauty is the reason why 
the picture comes into being. The beauty is surely something 
very real. Yet no one would say that, apart from the picture, 
the beauty exists, or that it existed in time before the picture. 
It is^not an existent 41 thing." 

There are in the philosophy of Aristotle a number of 
other doctrines which profoundly influenced Hegel. One of 
these is the distinction between potentiality and actuality. 
These reappear in Hegel under the names of the 11 implicit " 
and the " explicit/ 1 or that which is 11 in itself " and that which 
is 11 in and for itself." According to Aristotle matter is 
potentiality, form is actuality. Matter in itself is absolutely 
formless. It is the entirely indeterminate substrate of things. 
It is what is left if we remove from anything all its determina- 
tions. Gold is soft, yellow, heavy, opaque, etc. If we remove 
all these determinations in order to come to the substance 
itself in which the determinations inhere, we shall find that, 
in point of fact, we have left only a total blank, an absolute 
nothingness and emptiness. For we have removed all the 
universals. And since whatever we can say or think of the 
thing is necessarily a universal (6), it follows that we can 
neither say nor think anything whatever of what is left. 
There is in fact nothing left. The natural conclusion is that 
the supposed substrate is non-existent. But neither Plato 
nor Aristotle could rid themselves of the idea that there is 
such a substrate. Both saw clearly, however, that this 
substrate is a complete emptiness, a not-being. Therefore 
they said that " matter," as they called the substrate, is a 
not-being which yet is. 

Aristotle's 11 matter," being in itself nothing, is capable of 
becoming anything whatever. What it becomes depends upon 
what universal, what form, is impressed upon it. Endow 
matter with the universals, white, ovoid, hard, eatable, etc., 
and, behold, it is an egg. Impose upon it the universals 
yellow, malleable, heavy, metallic, etc., and, lo, it is a lump 
of gold. Thus matter itself is actually nothing, but it is 


potentially everything. It is the potentiality of all things. 
But it only gains actuality, becomes a " thing," by the 
acquisition of form. Form, therefore, is actuality. 

28. But Aristotle believed that, in the combination of form 
and matter which constitutes a thing, either the form or th e 
matter may predominat e. In some things matter prepon- 
derates over form ; in other things the reverse is true. Con- 
sequently, there is a scale of beings which passes by continuous 
gradations from formless matter at the bottom to matterless 
form at the top. Neither the one extreme nor the other 
exists, for form and matter cannot exist apart from each other. 
But the intermediate terms exist and constitute the universe. 
Such low things as inorganic matter come at the bottom of the 
scale of existence. In them matter predominates. Next 
come plants. Above plants are animals. And the highest 
existence in the sublunary sphere is man, in whom form 
vastly preponderates over matter. All things are continually 
striving to become higher forms. Their attempt to do so is 
the cause of becoming in the world, the process of the world in 
^general. The motive power of the world-process is the en d f 
^he form, th e universal . Things strive towards their ends. 
Hence the torm is the impelling force, the energy which makes 
things move. Form compels and moulds matter into hig her 
and higher states of existence. Thus the end operates through- 
out the whole process from the beginning. The end therefore 
was present in the beginning, for if not it could exert no force. 
But it was present in the beginning only potentially. It 
only becomes actual when the end is realised. Thus if the 
acorn is the beginning, and the oak is the end, the oak is 
already in the acorn potentially. Man is already potentially 
in the ape, though he is only actual in man himself. If this 
is not so, the phenomena of growth are inexplicable. How 
can the oak come out of the acorn, if it is not already in it ? 
For it to do so would involve something coming out of nothing, 
and if this were so, all becoming, all change, would be, as 
Parmenides saw, inconceivable and impossible. Change 
involves the arising of somet hing new . But if this new ele- 
menjtjilsKiiolIy new, then we havetnTlm^ 


thing being c reated out of nothing. The new element, ther e- 
Jpra, r-annftt hf> whniiy n PW Tf- wflf already present as a 
j jot fialiality in thr nld 

Development is thus c onceived as the ea rning rn light- nf 
jyhnr if*™**- nn^ hiHrUiT What a thing already 13 
inwardly, that it becomes outwardly also. The acorn is the 
oak, b ut in a state of inwardness. 14 In itself " it is the oak. 
But it is only to the searching eye of philosophic thought that 
it is the oak. Thought sees the oak " in it." It is only the oak 

Jbrjt s jlor US Whose though * - CaQ ppnptraf-P Hmxrn fn wViof j» 

latent In if. It is thus the oak for us. but ngi ye± for itself 
It only b aSfiglfiS thfi 0 oV fnr * fcfi1f SthfiTj it has actually jrrnwn 
into thg oak . Hence what is potential or latent Hpg^i 
" in itself." What is actual he calls " for itself." And these-, 
terms are usually renaerea oy translators as " implicit " and 
11 explicit " respectively. The acorn is the oak implicitly, 
but not yet explicitly. This term 11 in itself," which we find 
on almost every page of Hegel, is apt to be very puzzling to 
the beginner. And hence it is very important to grasp the 
conception of it. The systems of Aristotle and of Hegel are 
both theories of evolution, and both are based upon the same 
conception of the nature of development. Development 
does not involve the arising of something totally new. For 
Aristotle it is the transition from potential being to actual 
being. For Hegel it is the transition from the implicit to the 

29. We ate, not, to understand from these remarks that the 
whole paraphernal a of Aristotle's matter and form are 
bodily appropriated by Hegel. Both Plato and Aristotle 
regarded matter as something real, although they called it 
not-being. And from this arose the fundamental dualism 
of their philosophies. Matter is not something which is 
produced by the universal. It existed there from the begin- 
ning ; the universal moulds it into shape and makes 11 things " 
of it. Matter and the universal, therefore, are primordial 
beings neither of which can be reduced to the other. This is 
dualism. Hegel saw that the substrate of things is a mere 
abstraction, an empty nothing. And he therefore abolished 


it from his system. 1 Hegel's " implicit M is not Aristotle's 
11 matter/ ' Nor is his 41 explicit " the same as Aristotle's 
" form." According to Aristotle's application of the terms, 
pure matter is potentiality, while pure form is actuality. 
Hegel's words implicit and explicit mean the same as Aristotle's 
potential and actual. But he did not apply them to the same 
things or in the same way. We are at present concerned only 
with the meaning (connotation) of the words, not with their 
application (denotation). 

30. The last Aristotelian doctrine which we need mention 
as directly influencing Hegel is the doctrine of the Absolute, 
or God. We have seen that to say that anything is, in the 
philosophic sense, reality, is to say that it is that .primordial 
being which is the source of all things in the world. In other 
words it is ^the Absolute. Philosophers also frequently use 
the word God for the Absolute, because, in religion, God is 
looked upon as the primordial being from which all thin gs flow. 

31. Now at the top of the scale of being in Aristotle^ 
philosophy comes absolutely matterless form. This absolute 
form is what Aristotle calls God, — because form is the source 
of all existence. This pure form contains no matter. Its 
only content is itself. Thus it is not the form of matter, but 
the form of form. And this becomes transformed into the 
famous Aristotelian definition of God as*the 11 thought of 
thought." God does not . think matter. He thinks only 
thought. He is thought, and the object of this thought is 
thought itself. He thinks, therefore, only Himself. God is 
self-consciousness. Hegel's Absolute is also self-conscious- 
ness, the thought of thought . 

32. Now it is evident that in this transformation the phrase 
" thought of thought " is taken as equivalent to the phrase 
11 form of form." This is only justifiable if form is thought. 
And so we reach here a new determination of the universal 
philosophy. Form is the universal. The universal is the 
real, the Absolute. Hence the real, the Absolute^ is though t. 
And since thought is the essence of mind, we may also expres s 

1 Hegei^ Jaewe^er, practically introduces it again in his conception of 
the 'fcontingent^ that which cannot be deduced. See below (423-5). 


this by saving tha t the Absolute is mind. It remains for us 
to justify these determinations. 

33. The question resolves itself into this : is a form px 
imjversal a thought ? That it is, was clearly the opinion of 
both Aristotle and H ege l. And the same opinion is suggested 
by the historical origin of the theory of universals. Plato 
was led to the fundamental tenets of his philosophy by dis- 
cpyexing that knowledge consists wholly of concept s. The 
universal, as it first came under his consideration, was the 
subjective concept, the thought which we have in our minds 
when we use a class-name. The core of his philosophy is 
reached at that point where it is seen that a universal is not 
merely something subjective, but that there are objective 
universals which have being outside of, independent of, minds. 
These are to be regarded as objective thoughts, because uni- 
versality is a quality of thoughts and not of things. Things 
are individual. 

Still, as has already been indicated (7), there is a school of 
philosophy now much in fashion according to which uni- 
versals are not thoughts, although it is admitted that they 
11 subsist," i.e. possess being. Universals, it is said, are 
44 not mental." 1 This may be, as already suggested, partly 
a mere matter of words. If it means merely that universals 
are not subjective thoughts, i.e. not thoughts existing in a 
particular mind, such as yours or mine or God's, then idealism 
will not only admit this but will insist emphatically upon it. 
But if it means further that universals are not of the nature of 
thought, apart from the question of their existence in minds, 
it must be disputed. 

34. The_ground of the idealist contention is that universals 
are abstractions . It is only by abstracting from the differ- 
ences and concentrating on the common elements of a class 
that we obtain a universal. But abstraction is clearly a 
thought-process. And a universal is a thought because it is 
an abstraction. An objection will doubtless be raised to this. 
True, it will be said, that it is only by abstraction that we 

1 See, for example, Mr. Bertrand Russell's admirable little book, The 
Problems of Philosophy, pp. 152-5. 


obtain a universal. But this universal which we obtain is only 
a subjective concept. So that this argument proves only what 
we know already, viz. that subjective concepts are thoughts. 
It proves nothing as to the nature of objective universals. But 
this is to misconceive the argument. The point is, not tliat 
concepts are abstractions, but that objective universals are 
abstractions. For if not they have no being, no objectivity. 
We have seen that they do not exist: They have no exis- 
tence separate from individual things. It is only in thought, 
and as thoughts, that they have separate and independent 
being. Therefore, so far as they have being they are abstrac- 
tions, i.e. thoughts. We have seen, too, that the only being 
which can be attributed to universals is a logical being. And 
what is only a logical entity is a thought. Or again, we have 
seen that they are " reasons." And a reason is surely a 

35. But, of course, it is of fundamental importance to 
understand that when idealism says that the ultimate reality 
is thought, it does not mean thought in the common sense of 
subjective thought, psychic processes going on in an individual 
mind. It does not assert that the universe is dependent on 
the operations of human minds, or even on the operations of 
a divine mind in the popular theistic sense. Idealism is 
perfectly consistent with the view that there was a time when 
no minds, human or divine, existed, when there was nothing 
but masses of incandescent vapour with no trace of life any- 
where. For such a world was still dependent on thought, 
was the product of thought, was thought — not subjective, 
but objective thought. 

36. But against this it is urged that " thought implies a 
thinker," that thought without a thinker is inconceivable. 
This difficulty is only a recrudescence of the difficulty which 
the common mind experiences in understanding how any- 
thing can be real and yet not exist. What this asser- 
tion means is that thoughts cannot exist except in the 
mind of a thinker. And this is perfectly true. Every 
existence is an individual entity which is there, at some place 
or time. An existent thought must be such an individual 


entity, which is there, which is present as this particular 
thought in the stream of some particular consciousness. But 
universals do not exist and are therefore not present in a 
stream of consciousness, in a mind. Thoughts cannot exist 
without a thinker. But universals do not exist. They are 
real. And since all existence is appearance, since no exis- 
tence is reality, and because every thought in the mind of a 
thinker is an entity which exists, it follows that universals 
are not in the mind of a thinker. If they were, they could not 
be real. For they would exist. 

37. It should be noticed that when idealists use such 
expressions as that the Absolute is thought, they are using 
the word thought in a restricted sense as meaning only uni- 
versal thought. The popular usage, according to which I 
may have, for example, a thought of my mother's face, is 
different. In such popular language thought includes parti- 
cular mental images, and sometimes even sensations. In our 
sense only universals are called thoughts. 

38. The expression that the Absolute is mind means no more 
than that it is thought. Thought is the essence of mind and 
if one expression is legitimate, the other is also. But here 
again it is not a subjective existent mind tha t is meant, but an 
object ive real mind. The mind spoken of is that system of 
universal thought of which reality is composed. It is not a 
mind, this mind as opposed to that, my mind or even God's 
mind — if by God is meant a particular existent intelligence. 
This primordial mind from which the universe flows is no 
psychic entity. It is real. But it does not exist. It is uni- 
versal mind, abstract mind. It is indeed the mind at work 
in the world, and that such mind is at work in the world is the 
truth of the theological doctrine of divine governance. But 
it is the mind at work in the world, not outside it. It is the 
reason in things, or of things, but not a reason which is exter- 
nal to them, stands apart from them, as a human mind stands 
apart from the objects it observes or controls. It is reason 
which does not imply a reasoner in the sense of a person who 
reasons. Of course, too, it does not exist ; it did not exist 
before the beginning of the world, did not " create " the world 


as an act in time. Its relation to the world is a logical relation, 
and its being a logical being. 

D. Results 

39. In tracing the development of Greek idealism we have 
attempted to extract from the historical facts their essential 
significance. We have thereby expounded part of the funda- 
mentals of the universal philosophy, and since Hegel is but 
the last great teacher of this philosophy, we have expounded 
at the same time some of the fundamental principles of Hegel. 
It may be well now to gather up in a brief statement the 
results we have obtained. The essentials of the universal 
philosophy, or those essentials which have so far emerged, 
are the following : 

I. The real is what has a wholly independent being, a being 
dependent only on itself. 

II. Appearance is what depends for its being upon another 
being. This other being is the real. 

III. Existence is what can be immediately presented to 
consciousness. It may be either a material or a psychic 

IV. The real is the universal. 

V. The real is not an existence. Its being is logical being. 

VI. Existence is appearance. 

VII. The real, that is, the universal, is also thought, mind, 
or intelligence ; but this thought, mind, or intelligence is not 
an existent, individual, subjective mind, but an abstract, 
universal, objective mind. It has a logical and not a factual 

VIII. The real, that is, objective thought, is the first prin- 
ciple or ultimate bftng, the Absolute, which is the source of 
all things, and from which the universe must be explained. 

IX. This first principle is first only in the sense that it holds 
logical priority over all things. It is not first in order of time. 

These propositions constitute the idealist creed only so far 
as it has developed up to the time of Aristotle. We have yet 


to consider the modifications and additions which modern 
thought has effected in it. 

40. The philosophy of Hegel, it will be seen, is not some- 
thing simply invented out of nothing by himself and flung at 
random into an astonished world. It is no crazy fancy of an 
individual's brain, no gimcrack novelty. It is not the pet 
theory of some erratic genius, nor is it merely one theory among 
many rivals. The true author of it is, not so much Hegel, as 
the toiling and thinking human spirit, the universal spirit of 
humanity getting itself uttered through this individual. It 
is the work of the ages. It has its roots deep in the past. It 
is the accumulated wisdom of the years, the last phase of the 
one " universal philosophy. 1 ' For the truth is, to use a phrase 
of Hegel's, neither new nor old, but permanent. Yet Hegel, 
too, is profoundly original. But his originality is not mere 
novelty. It is new, but it is old too. It recognises all past 
truth, absorbs it into itself, and advances. Hence its attitude 
to other philosophies is neither envious, nor hostile, nor 
destructive. It sees in every one of them some phase or aspect 
of truth which has to be recognised and absorbed into itself. 
It is for this reason a genuinely universal philosophy. 



41. After the death of Aristotle idealism of the classic type 
disappeared until comparatively modern times. The Stoics, 
Epicureans, and Sceptics neglected it. Neo-Platonism was, at 
the best, a mystical distortion of it. Scholasticism caricatured 
it. Thinkers from Descartes to Leibniz did not revive it. 
Among these early modern philosophers there are, of course, 
affinities with Greek idealism. But they are slight. The 
revival of idealism comes with Kant, and is his work. Not 
that Kant is a direct offshoot of Greek idealism. His work 
shows but little the influence of the Greeks. Nor would it be 
true to say of him, without many provisos, that he is an 
exponent of the universal philosophy. He would have 
completely repudiated some of the most important of the 
propositions formulated at the end of the last chapter. Yet 
he became the parent, even against his own will, of an idealism 
of a fundamentally similar type to that described in the last 

But before coming to Kant we must briefly refer to the one 
pre-Kantian thinker who influenced Hegel more profoundly 
than any other. This was Spinoza. 

A. Spinoza and Hegel. 

42. Spinoza formulated the profoundly important prin- 
ciple that all determination is negation . To determine a thiiig 
is to cut it off from some sphere of being and so to limit it* 
To define is to set boundaries. To say that a thing is green 



limits it by cutting it from the sphere of pink, blue, or other- 
coloured things. To say that it is good cuts it off from the 
sphere of evil. This limitation is the same as negation. To 
affirm that a thing ^ within certain limits is to deny that it is 
outside thos£ limits To say that it is green is to say that it 
is not pink. ^Affirmation involves negation. Whatever is said 
of a thing d enies somethi ng e lse of it.. All determination is 
negatio n. 

43. This principle is fundamental for Hegel also, but with 
him it takes rather the converse form that all negation is 
determination. t Formal logicians will remind us that we cannot 
simply convert Spinoza's proposition. But it is sufficient 
to point out in reply that not only does affirmation involve 
negation ; negation likewise involves affirmation. To deny 
that a thing belongs to one class is to affirm that it belongs to 
some other class, — though we may not know what that class 
is. Posit ive and negative are correlatives which mutually 
i nvolve each o ther. To posit is to negate : this is Spinoza' s 
principle. To negate is to posit : this is Hegel's. 

When, therefore, we meet Hegel t alking about " the porten - 
tous power of the negative ," we have to consider that for him 
pegation is the very process of creation. For the positive 
nature of an object consists in its determinatiqns. The natu rp 
of a stone is to be white, heav y, har d, etc. And since all 
determinations are ne gations, it follows that the positive 
nature of a thing consists in its negations. Negation, therefore, 
is of the very essence of positive being. And for the wor ld 
to come into being what is above alL necessary, is the lorce 
of negation, " the portentous p ower of the n egative." The 
genus only becomes the species by means of the differentia , 
and the differentia is precisely that which carves out a 
par ticular class from the general class by e xcluding, i.e. 
negating, the other specie s. And the species again only 
becomes the individual in the same way, by negating other 
individuals. These thoughts are no casual reflections of 
Hegel. They underlie his entire system. We must get to 
understand that these three ideas, determination, limitation, 
and negation, all involve each other. 


44. The Hegelian doctrine of the infinite also owes much to 
Spinoza. To be infinite means to be unlimited. Now to be 
determined is to be limited. For determination is limitation. 
This would lead to the conclusion that the infinite is the 
undetermined. And since what has no determinations has no 
character of any kind, since nothing can be predicated of it, 
the undetermined is, therefore, the completely empty. It is, 
in fact, nothing, mere vacancy. And the substance of 
Spinoza is really this undetermined vacancy. But there is 
another thought which lies, inconsistently perhaps, at the 
root of the philosophy of Spinoza. He says that substance 
is causa sui, the cause of itself. It is, therefore, not the un- 
determined but the self-determined. Its determinations do 
not arise from any outside source but only from itself. And 
that the infinite is not merely the endless, the unlimited, the 
undetermined, as in popular conception, but is the self- 
determined, — this is the fundamental Hegelian conception 
of infinity. Not, of course, that this exhausts the Hegelian 
doctrine of the infinite. On the contrary it leaves out its 
most characteristic element. But the roots of Hegel's teach- 
ing on the subject lie here in Spinoza. 

5. Hume and Kant. 

45. Greek idealism naively assumed that the human mind 
is capable of cognizing reality. To suppose that only appear- 
ance is knowable to minds constituted as ours are was an idea 
which never occurred to Plato or Aristotle. Yet the problem 
was bound to force itself at some time into philosophic con- 
sciousness. It was Kant who formally raised the question. 
What is knowledge ? How is it possible ? What can be 
known, and what cannot be known ? Has knowledge any 
necessary limits ? These were the questions which Kant set 
himself to answer, questions which, he tells us, were forced 
upon him by the philosophising of Hume. 

46. Hume attempted to show that some of the -most funda- 
mental conceptions, such as cause, identity, substance, upon 
which our knowledge of things depends, are illusory. First 


of all, causality. This idea involves the two elements of 
necessity and universality. Suppose that A is the cause of B. 
This means, firstly, that B must follow A. It is not a mere 
fact that it does so. It must. This is necessity. It means, 
secondly, that B always follows A, provided there is no coun- 
teracting cause, provided, that is, that no third phenomenon, 
C, interferes with the operation of A. A properly constructed 
bell, A, will, when shaken, always produce sound, B — unless, 
of course, it is shaken in a vacuum, C. This is universality. 
Such is the conception of causality. 

But is this conception justified ? Is it a true description of 
reality ? Is there in the objective world any reality which 
corresponds to this our mental conception ? Or is it merely 
a chimera of the mind ? Hume took it for granted that 
we have no source of knowledge except experience. And 
experience means, for him as for Locke, the experience which 
comes to us either through the physical senses, or through 
reflection upon our own mental processes. Knowledge of 
anything external to our minds, such as this house, this tree, 
this star, comes through the senses. Knowledge of anything 
within the mind, such as the fact that I feel angry, comes 
through reflection or introspection. But experience thus 
defined can never give us either necessity or universality. I 
can only see, hear, or feel that a thing is } never that it must be. 
My eye tells me that this paper is here. But no amount of 
gazing at it will give me the information that it must be here. 
Nor is there any kind of logical necessity to be found in causa- 
tion. Cold solidifies water. But there is no logical connection 
between cold and solidification. By analysing the idea of a 
triangle I can see that its three angles must equal two right 
angles. But no analysis of the idea of cold will yield the idea 
of solidification. The one cannot be deduced, as a logical 
necessity, from the other. So far as one can see, cold might 
just as well turn water into steam. We have to wait on ex- 
perience to see which, if either, will happen. And experience 
merely gives us the fact, not the necessity. Likewise experi- 
ence can only tell us that B follows A in those particular cases 
to which experience extends. It cannot possibly give us any 


grounds for believing that B always does, and always will, 
follow A. This is specially obvious with regard to the future. 
We have no experience of the future. How then can experi- 
ence inform us that fire will produce heat to-morrow ? But 
this difficulty, though more obvious in regard to the future, 
really arises with equal force in the cases of the past and the 
present. Water freezes at 0° Centigrade. But what is the 
evidence of this ? Experience merely shows that this has 
been true in all the cases which we happen to have investi- 
gated. But there are millions of cases of the freezing of water 
which no one has ever observed, and of which, therefore, we 
have no experience. And how can experience warrant us in 
making statements about that of which we have no experi- 
ence ? Therefore knowledge of universality can never be given # 
us by experience. And since experience is, according to Hume, 
the only source of true knowledge, and since the essential ele-^ 
ments of causality, namely universality and necessity, cannot 
be found in experience, it follows that causality is an illusion. 
And Hume proceeds to explain how the illusion arises through 
the laws of the association of ideas. Having invariably seen 
A followed by B, we associate the two together, and imagine 
that the sequence is necessarily and universally true. 

47. Hume, following Berkeley, criticises the idea of sub- 
stance in much the same way. A stone has whiteness, hard- 
ness, etc. And we are accustomed to say that there is a sub- 
stance in which these qualities inhere. But experience gives us 
knowledge only of the qualities, not of the substance. We can- 
not form any idea of the substance or substratum apart from 
its qualities. But we are accustomed to associate the hardness, 
the whiteness, etc., with each other, and so our imagination 
produces the idea of some underlying substance which is 
supposed to support these qualities and link them together. 
We have no warrant in experience for the idea of substance 
which is, accordingly, an illusion like that of causality. 

48. Kant was seriously perturbed by these considerations 
and cast about to find an answer to them. Such an idea as 
that of causation is absolutely necessary to knowledge. All 
science rests upon the assumption of causation. And if the 


foundations of knowledge are thus cut away the entire fabric 
will collapse. The possibility of any knowledge whatever 
depends upon an answer to Hume being found. 

49. There are, according to Kant, two elements in know- 
ledge, sensation and thought . In sensation we are passive. 
We receive the raw material of knowledge in the form of 
sensations which are given to us from an outside sourc e. In 
thought we are active . Thought is a spontaneous operatio n 
of the mind which works up the ra w material of sensation 
into knowledge . All this, says Kant, has been universally 
admitted ever since the time of Plato. Kant proceeds to 
study these two elements of knowledge separately. 

50. First, as to sensation, fivery object of ext ernal sense 
js in space and time . JEvery object of internal sense , i.e. 
introspection, — such objects as feelings and ideas — are in 
time. But these latter are not in space. Thus time is the 
universal form of internal sense ; space and time are the 
universal forms of external sense. Now do we possess any 
cognitions about space and time which possess those characters 
of universality and necessity which were found so puzzling in 
the case of causality ? The answer is that we do. All 
geometrical knowledge consists of universal and necessary 
propositions about space. And we have also universal and 
necessary cognitions regarding time, e.g. that two moments 
cannot be simultaneous. Arithmetical propositions are also 
universal and necessary. But Hume has proved conclusively 
that experience cannot yield us universality and necessity. 
Hence this knowledge does not arise from experience. 

51. Perhaps, however, this universality and necessity of 
mathematical propositions may be due to the fact that they 
are merely analytic. That a horse is an animal must be 
universally and necessarily true so long as we continue to use 
the words 11 horse " and 41 animal " in the same sense. The 
idea of a horse includes the fact that it is an animal, so that 
the proposition merely gives a partial analysis of the meaning 
of the word horse. In the same way, it might be urged, the 
proposition 2 + 2=4 is universal and necessary because it is 
merely a definition of 4. And that two straight lines cannot 


enclose a space is universal and necessary because it merely 
expresses what we mean by straight lines. 

This is a plausible, but unsound, objection. The proposi- 
tions in question are not analytic but synthetic. Two plus 
two is not a definition of four. No one can know that 
2 +2 =4 merely by analysing the idea of 4. No one can know 
it until it has bee n pointed out in experience that two beads 
and two beads taken together, or any similar objects, make ' 
four. Similarly no amount of analysis of the idea of a straight * 
line will give us the knowledge that two straight lines cannot 
enclose a space. This also has to be pointed out, either in a 
real space or in an imaginary space. Ordinarily, no doubt," 
in order to understand this we try to imagine two straight" 
lines enclosing a space, and we find that we cannot. This 
experiment in imagination is of the same character as an 
actual experiment in real space. It consists in a process of 
pointing out to ourselves, and is not an analysis of a concept. 

52. Yet the universality and necessity of these propositions 
cannot arise from experience. We no doubt require experience" 
before we can come to know them, for, as we have just seen, 
they have to be pointed out in experience. But all that 
experience can ever give us is that this two and this two make 
this four, or that this pair of straight lines does not enclose a 
space. Yet, immediately these particular facts are pointed 
out in experience, we leap beyond their particularity and add 
universality and necessity to them. We see that what is 
true of this case is, and must always be. true of all casgs . 
Experience cannot yield this universality and necessit y. So 
that these propositions are f on the one hand synthetic T while 
on the other they are independent of experience or, to use 
Kant's phrase, a priori. And the question is, how are a 
priori synthetic propositions possible ? They do not arise from 
experience, nor do they arise from mere analysis of our ideas. 

53. The key to the mystery is to be found in certain con- 
siderations regarding space and time. Space is t hp condition 
pf the appearance to us of external objects . We cannot 
conceive this table existing except on the condition that it 
exists in space. On the other hand, we can easily picture the 


space without the table, or empty space without any objects 
at all. We can, in imagination, destroy all objects in space, 
and conceive of totally empty space remaining. But we 
cannot reverse the process. We cannot destroy the space in 
imagination and yet retain the objects. Therefore the cog- 
nition of space is the prior condition of the cognition of 
jobjects. But the cognition of objects is precisely what w e 
call experience. Hence the cognition of space is prior to al l 
.experience ; for it is the condition of all experience, and a 
condition must be prior to what depends upon it. Therefore 
the cognition of space does not come to us from experience, 
jrom the outside, and space is not something external to u_s_ 
which we passively receive through the sensejs . It is not a 
form of things which exists outside us ; jt is a form of our own 
perceptive faculty . It is the creation of our own minds. It 
is we who impose space upon things, not things which impose 
space upon our minds. Space does not exist apart from us. 
J fc is our way of perceiving things . And Kant applies similar 
arguments to prove the same thing of time. 

54. Now if this is true, we can understand the necessity and 
universality of propositions regarding space and time, and in no 
other way can we understand them. For if space and time are 
subjective forms of our perceptive faculty, then the laws of 
space and time, — and propositions of geometry and mathe- 
matics are such laws — are the laws of our own minds, and a law 
of our own perceptive faculty is naturally true universally and 
necessarily of whatever we perceive. If we wore coloured 
spectacles we should see everything coloured. And so, since 
space and time are our ways of perceiving things, the laws of 
our perception impose themselves on everything we perceive. 

5$. A word of warning is desirable here. When Kant says . 
that the cognitions of space and time are prior to all experi- 
ence, he does not, of course, mean that we come into the world 
with a ready-made knowledge of space and time. Psycholo- 
gists have laboriously investigated the ways in which the 
knowledge of space and time grows up in children and young 
animals. Of course such knowledge is acquired gradually 
in experience. But psychological conclusions of this sort in 


no way conflict with Kant's theory, — and have, indeed, no 
bearing upon it. Nobody, least of all Kant, supposes that the 
cognitions of time and space are prior to experience in order 
of time ; they are prior to it in logical order only, because 
they are its logical condition. And Kant's theory is that, 
though we doubtless come to gain a knowledge of space and 
time by degrees in the manner described by psychologists, 
yet what we are thus coming to know is not anything external 
to us, but something of which we ourselves are the authors. 
We are gaining knowledge, not of an alien outer something, 
but of the contents of our own minds. Failure to understand 
this distinction is the source of some of the crudest misunder- 
standings both of Kant and of Hegel. 

56. gpace and time are the only elements* of sensation 
which possess universality and necessity . They are the 
jiecessary forms of sensation. The filling of these forms, e.g. 
such sense-data as those of colour, taste, etc., are not uni- 
versal or necessary. For example, this poppy is red. But 
we cannot see that it must be red. It might as well be blue. 
Neither can we extend our conception of redness to all things, 
or even to all poppies. Hence there is no reason to assume 
that any element of sensation, except space and time, is the 
work of our minds. With the exception of these two r al l 
else comes from outside, from an external thin g. Hence 
sensation may be said to have two sources . The forms of 
sensation, i.e. space and time, are the spontaneous products o f 
the perceiving min d. Its matter is ziven us from outside b y 
the obj ect itself. It follows t hat the object itself, the thing-i n- 
itself, as it is apart from the work of our minds upon it, is no t 
in space or time at all . Hence the objects perceived by us in 
space and time are not the real objects. They are appearances. 

57. This concludes the consideration of the first source of 
knowledge, sensation. The next question is, whether there 
are any universal and necessary elements in the second source 
of knowledge, viz. thought. Thought is conceptual. Hence 
the question may also be framed thus : are there any universal 
and necessary concepts ? Now we have already seen that the 
concepts of cause and substance possess universality and 


necessity. Are there any others ? If so, they too, like space 
and time, must be prior to experience, must be a priori, must 
be contributed to knowledge, not by things-in-themselves, 
but by the cognising mind. And if so, they too will be pure 
forms having nothing of the matter of sensation in them. 
For the matter is given by the thing-in-itself ; it is the form 
that mind contributes. The concept 44 red " is no more 
a priori than the percept 44 red." Neither have any uni- 
versality or necessity. Both belong to the matter, not to the 
form, of knowledge. Now the faculty of concepts is also the 
faculty of judgment. The mind judges when it applies its 
concepts to objects. Hence the pure non-sensuous forms of 
thought, i.e. the pure non-sensuous concepts, will be given to us 
in the formal judgments of logic. " Some poppies are red " is a 
material judgment, and gives us the sensuous concepts 4 'poppy" 
and 44 red." But 44 Some S is P " is purely formal, and gives 
us none of the matter of sensation. But* does it involve any 
concepts at all ? It does. First of all, it is a particular and 
not a universal proposition. It refers to more than one but 
not to all. This is the concept of plurality. Secondly, it 
states that something 44 is." This involves the concept of 
reality. These then must be pure non-sensuous concepts, 
which are not derived from experience, but which the con- 
struction of our minds contributes to knowledge. To find the 
complete list we have only to see what concepts are involved 
in the different kinds of logical judgment. The full list of 
such judgments divides them as follows : — 

















and from this list Kant derives the corresponding concepts as 

follows : — 







Substance and 

Possibility and 





Cause and 

Existence and 






Necessity and 



58. These twelve pure concepts are called by Kant cate- 
gories. They lire, like space and time, (1) pure forms without 
content or matter, (2) prior to all experience, and (3) not given 
from any external source but contributed to cognition by the 
mind itself. These categories are also universal and necessary. 
A thing may or may not be red. But it must be the effect of 
some cause. It must be a substance having accidents. It 
must be one or many. We can conceive a universe without 
whiteness, or without weight, but not one without unity, 
plurality, reality, negation, and so on. And this universality 
and necessity are to be explained in the same way as the uni- 
versality and necessity of time and space. The categories are 
the work of our minds. Our minds are so made that things 
must appear to us through these forms. Hence these forms 
apply to everything, and are, for us, universal and necessary. 
And just as the thing-in-itself is not in space or time, so 
now the categories cannot apply to the thing-in-itself. The 
thing-in-itself is not a cause, or a substance ; it is neither 
one nor many ; it has neither quantity, quality, nor relation. 
These concepts apply only to what appears to us, not to the 
thing as it is in itself. 

59. Now to say all this amounts to saying that reality is 
unknowable. + The thing-in-itself is the reality ; it is what 
really exists apart from the subjective conceptions of our 
minds. The thing as we know it is an appearance. The 
thing as it is in reality is not in space or time, has neither 
quantity, nor quality, nor relation, and is, in a word, entirely 
inconceivable to us. What, then, is to be said of our so-called 
knowledge ? What must be said is this, that our knowledge 
is sound and good, within the limits of appearance, within the 
limits of our experience. No doubt the entire world as we 
know it is appearance, but it is not mere illusion, because the 
forms of this appearance are universal and necessary. They 
apply to all minds constructed as ours are. They are not 
merely the groundless fancies of an individuals mind ; which 
is what is meant by illusion. So we may say that this world 
of appearance is a reality for us. But if we imagine that it is 
possible for us to know reality as it is in itself, then we are 


deluding ourselves. Hence knowledge must stick to the 
world of experience. Beyond this it cannot go. It cannot 
penetrate to the secret inner reality of the world. That 
reality is for ever unknowable to us by reason of the very way 
our minds are constructed. And since experience means only 
the universe as surveyed by our external and internal senses, 
the last word of Kant must needs be that only knowledge of 
phenomena is possible, the phenomena of the sense-world on 
the one hand, and the phenomena of the inner psychic world 
of mind on the other. 

C. The onward march from Kant. 

60. Philosophy, then, according to Kant, is to abate its 
claims. It is warned off the premises of everything except 
immediate existence in space and time. It must give up all 
attempts to know reality, to penetrate behind appearances. 
But the effect of this solemn warning upon the philosophic 
world was truly astonishing. No sooner had Kant thus cried 
" Halt 1 n to philosophy than philosophy, forming its adherents 
into a sort of triumphal procession, proceeding, so to speak, 
with bands playing and flags waving, marched victoriously 
onward to the final assault, confident of its power to attain 
omniscience at a stroke, to occupy the very citadel of reality 
itself. And, strangest of all, this was to be done with the very 
weapons which Kant himself had forged. It was under the 
Kantian banner that philosophy moved forward. It was 
Kant's own philosophy, hailed as the greatest discovery of 
all time, which was to accomplish this final and triumphant 
victory. Philosophy, instead of being sobered by the warnings 
of the master, rose at once to an exuberant ferment of enthusi- 
asm. It set no bounds to itself. It was to accomplish the 
impossible, know the unknowable. Such is the confident 
enthusiasm of the philosophies of that time, 

61. The reason for this astonishing change was that while 
philosophy fastened upon the ideas of universality, necessity, 
and pure thought as an a priori construction of mind, it rejected 
the Kantian thing-in-itself. Everyone saw at once that the 


conception of the thing-in-itself is a self-contradictory and 
impossible abstraction. It is a flat self-contradiction. Its 
existence is assumed because Kant thought there must be an 
external cause of our sensations. On the one hand, therefore, 
the thing-in-itself is alleged to be the cause of appearances. 
On the other hand, however, it cannot be a cause, because 
cause is a category of our minds, and the categories do not 
apply to the thing-in-itself. Nor can this contradiction be 
resolved by calling the thing-in-itself the ground of appear- 
ances instead of their cause. This, it is evident, is a subter- 
fuge, a mere change of words without any real change of 
meaning. Moreover, even if we say that the thing-in-itself is 
not a cause, but that it nevertheless exists, this position is, 
firstly, still self-contradictory, and secondly, quite gratuitous. 
It is self-contradictory because, though it drops the category 
of cause, it still applies to the thing-in-itself the category of 
existence, and this contradicts the fundamental Kantian 
position that none of the categories apply to it. It is gratui- 
tous because, if the thing-in-itself is not the cause of our sensa- 
tions there is no ground for assuming its existence. Why 
assume that there is a thing-in-itself at all ? Why not suppose 
that things as they appear to us, appearances, are all that 
exist ? Only because, according to Kant, our sensations must 
have an external cause. This is the only ground for assuming 
the existence of the thing-in-itself. Hence, since it now 
appears that the thing-in-itself cannot be such a cause, there 
is, consequently, no ground for assuming its existence. Lastly, 
this whole conception of an unknowable existence is self- 
contradictory. Knowledge is nothing but the application of 
concepts. If we know that a thing exists and is a cause, we 
know that the concepts of existence and causation apply to it. 
We have, therefore, some knowledge of it, and it is not 
unknowable or even unknown. 

62. Thus the whole conception of the thing-in-itself 
collapses. And we must carefully note the effect of this 
collapse on the Kantian philosophy. The forms of know- 
ledge, space, time, and the categories, are the product of our 
minds and issue from nothing external. Kant assumed that 


the given factor of knowledge, sensation, the matter or filling 
of the forms of space, time, and category, are due to an 
external source. This leads to the self-contradictory thing- 
in-itself. Therefore, the only conclusion is that this given 
factor does not arise from any external source. And in that 
case it must be, just as the a priori forms are, the product of 
mind. But if both matter and form are the product of mind, 
this means that the whole object of knowledge, and every 
object, and so the entire universe, is a product of mind. This 
leads to an absolute idealism. 

Lastly, the belief that there can be anything unknowable 
in the universe is exploded with the thing-in-itself. To say 
that anything is unknowable is self-contradictory. Hence 
everything must be knowable. There is no limit to the 
aspirations of human knowledge. The infinite, the Absolute 
itself, lie open to us. And these are the thoughts which 
inspired the victorious march of philosophy after Kant. 
Fichte, Schelling, Schopenhauer, and Hegel, — these were the 
offspring of the Kantian philosophy shorn of its unnecessary 
appendage, the thing-in-itself. 

D. Criticism of the Conception of the Unknowable. 

63. It may be supposed that, though the particular theory 
of the unknowable which Kant espoused proved untenable, 
yet some other theory of an unknowable may work better. 
The collapse of Kant's thing-in-itself may have been due to the 
special doctrines of Kant's philosophy. And though Kant 
may have failed here, yet an unknowable of some kind there 
must surely be. These are natural reflections. And yet they 
are erroneous. And we have, therefore, to generalise the 
results reached, to show that they are not peculiar to the 
Kantian way of putting the problem, and that not merely 
his but any theory of an unknowable will give rise to the same 
contradictions. We have to prove that the unknowable is, 
in itself and apart altogether from its setting in this or that 
particular philosophy, a self-contradictory and impossible 


64. We must distinguish clearly between the unknown and 
the unknowable. There are, of course, millions of things which 
are, and will probably always remain, unknown. And many 
of these are probably unknowable in the sense that, through 
lack of opportunity or of suitable instruments, they must 
remain for ever hidden from us. If there is a lump of gold at 
the bottom of an ocean on a planet which revolves round a star 
which is invisible to the greatest telescopes, this, we might 
say, is unknowable in the sense indicated. But this is not 
what is meant in philosophy by the unknowable. It is merely 
unknown, and will remain so, not because it is in itself unknow- 
able, but merely through the accidental fact that we are too 
far away to acquire a knowledge of it. Were it not for this 
accidental circumstance the fact itself would be quite as easily 
knowable as the gold sovereign in my pocket. What is meant 
in philosophy by the unknowable is something which, apart 
from all accidental circumstances, is such that the constitu- 
tion of our minds is radically incapable of knowing it, 
something which is totally outside any conceivable human 
knowledge, something from which we are completely cut off, 
not by distance, lack of intruments and the like, but by the 
nature of our mental processes. This is the conception 
which, we say, is impossible and self-contradictory, whether 
it appears in the form taught by Kant or by Spencer, by 
sceptic, empiricist, or idealist. 

65. For it is indisputable that ail knowledge is conceptual. 
And the ability to apply suitable concepts to a thing con- 
stitutes knowledge of that thing. Now existence is a concept. 
Therefore to say that an unknowable exists is to apply a con- 
cept to the unknowable. But to apply a concept to it is to 
have knowledge of it. Therefore the theory that an unknow- 
able exists involves the contradiction that we have knowledge 
of the unknowable. 

It is no reply to these arguments to say that we may know 
the bare existence of the thing but that we can know nothing 
of its nature. The distinction between the existence and the 
nature of the thing has no foundation, for its existence is part 
of its nature. The nature of the thing consists in the con- 


cepts which apply to it, and existence is one of these. Not 
again is it relevant to point out that mere knowledge of the 
existence of the thing, without any further knowledge of it, 
amounts to such a trifling quantity of knowledge that we 
may legitimately say that, for the rest, the thing is practically 
unknowable. The quantity of our knowledge is not in ques- 
tion. If anything is unknowable, this means that it is 
absolutely unknowable. And if we have any knowledge of it, 
however slight, it is not unknowable. To be able to apply 
a hundred concepts to a thing may constitute a great deal of 
knowledge. To be able to apply only one concept may con- 
stitute the minimum amount of knowledge. But still it is 
knowledge. Or if we go on to say, as Kant does, that the 
unknowable is the cause of appearances, thus applying the 
concept of cause, or if we say, as Spencer does, that it is a 
power which causes the universe, thus applying the concepts 
of power and cause, then we are claiming a quite considerable 
quantity of knowledge about the unknowable, and our theory 
becomes correspondingly more self-contradictory. 

66. Another consideration, which is peculiarly Hegelian, 
is applicable here. It is only possible to be aware of a limit 
to anything by knowing what is beyond the limit. No one 
could be aware of the end of a straight line unless he were 
aware of the empty space beyond the end. Hence if know- 
ledge itself has any absolute limit we could not be aware of 
the fact ; for we could only know the limit by being aware of 
what is beyond the limit ; and that would mean that know- 
ledge has already passed beyond its supposed limit, or in 
other words that the limit is no limit. Total ignorance of a 
thing involves total unawareness of it, and therefore it involves 
unawareness of our ignorance. To be aware of our ignorance 
of a thing is only possible if we know something of the thing 
and realise that this knowledge is very slight. But complete 
ignorance of the thing would be complete unconsciousness of 
it and would involve that we could not even be aware of our 
ignorance of it. Now the theory of the unknowable ignores 
these considerations. It implies, in the first place, that there 
is an absolute limit to our knowledge and that we know the 


limit and know nothing of what lies beyond the limit, — an 
impossibility. And it implies in the second place an absolute 
ignorance of something combined with an awareness of this 
ignorance, — also an impossibility. 

67. People imagine that it is inconsistent with due humility 
to suppose that there are no limits to the possibility of our 
knowledge. But we may fully admit the depth of our 
ignorance, our pitiable liability to error, our puny resources. 
These admissions have no bearing upon the question of an 
unknowable. They would be relevant to prove that many 
things are unknown, but not that anything is unknowable. 
The mind of an Aristotle or a Hegel may well appear like the 
mind of a baby to the superman of to-morrow. But what the 
superman knows is knowable, though possibly unknown, to a 
Hegel, and what Hegel knows is knowable, though doubtless 
unknown, to the baby. The differential calculus is not under- 
stood by the baby. But it is not unknowable to the baby, as 
is proved by the fact that the baby comes to understand it 
when it grows up. If it were unknowable in the philosophical 
sense, that would mean that the baby could never come to 
know it because the fundamental construction of its mind 
renders such knowledge a radical impossibility. A particular 
person may be stupid or uneducated and for that reason may 
find it impossible to understand the calculus. But no one 
would say that the calculus is unknowable. For the unknow- 
able means not something which this or that mind cannot 
understand, but something which mind as such cannot under- 
stand, however highly it may be developed. Our actual 
ignorance of the universe, then, is no argument for the exis- 
tence of an unknowable. 

68. But there is still one last stronghold out of which the 
partisans of the unknowable must be thrust. Our arguments, 
it may be said, prove that it is self-contradictory to assert the 
existence of an unknowable. But they do not prove that we 
can deny its existence. It is self- contradictory to say that we 
know that the unknowable exists. But it is not self-con- 
tradictory to say that it may exist even though we do not 
know it. For here we do not apply the concept of existence, 



we only say that we do not know whether it applies or not 
We may have no good grounds for asserting the existence of 
the unknowable ; but we equally have no good grounds for 
denying its existence. The answer is that we have perfect 
grounds for denying its existence, and that this position is as 
self-contradictory as the last. For suppose that an unknow- 
able exists. Then the category of existence is applicable to 
it. It is quite irrelevant whether we actually apply it or not. 
It is applicable. And that one of our mental categories 
applies to the unknowable means that it is, to the extent 
of that category, knowable. So that we have the same 
contradiction as before. 

69. We can, therefore, positively deny the existence of an 
unknowable. And it follows that there is nothing in the uni- 
verse which the human mind cannot know, neither the infinite, 
nor the Absolute, nor the thing-in-itself. Popular phrases 
about the finite mind of man being unable to comprehend the 
infinite are, therefore, mere superstition. And the principle 
which lies at the root of these results is the following. The 
word existence has no meaning except the possibility of being 
known, the possibility of being an object to consciousness. To 
say that anything exists means that it is a possible object for 
consciousness. Existence, therefore, is relative to, and depends 
upon, consciousness. And the theory of the unknowable is 
self-contradictory because it assumes that existence is possible 
independently of mind and consciousness. It may perhaps 
be asked whether this result is as true of reality as of exis- 
tence. Reality, as we said, has independent being, but it has 
not existence. Perhaps all existence may be relative to mind, 
so that an unknowable cannot exist. But may not an unknow- 
able have independent being and reality ? The answer is in 
the negative. For we saw that this independent being which 
we ascribed to reality is only a logical being, a being for thought. 
It cannot, therefore, have being apart from thought. It 
cannot be unknowable. 



A. Explanation : Cause : Reason. 

70. Stated in the most general terms possible the problem 
of philosophy is to explain the universe. No doubt the 
problems of philosophy are, in one sense, numerous. There 
are the questions of ethics, metaphysics, aesthetics, epistem- 
ology. But to explain the universe would be to solve all 
these. It may be urged that to undertake to explain the 
universe with our limited knowledge and faculties is like 
undertaking to lift the world with a feather. But if this 
means that the ultimate explanation of things is unknowable 
to us, we have already seen that such a position is untenable. 
If it only means that we can never hope for a perfect and 
complete explanation, we may admit it. But that our know- 
ledge can never be complete is no reason for abandoning the 
attempt to gain as much knowledge as we can. We are, there- 
fore, justified in seeking for an explanation of the universe. 

71. Philosophers have disputed whether the explanation 
of the universe is to be found in matter or mind, in an 
inscrutable first cause, or in an intelligent Creator. But the 
first question which ought to be settled is, what is explanation ? 
When we demand that the universe shall be explained, what 
is it that we wish to know about the universe ? 

Now an isolated fact is usually said to be explained when 
its cause has been discovered. And if its cause cannot be 
ascertained, it is said to be an unexplained fact. My cold 
feet are explained by the existence of a draught. But we 
cannot explain the universe in this way. If the universe 




could be said to have a cause, then either that cause is the 
effect of a prior cause, or it is not. Either the chain of causes 
extends back in an infinite series, or there is somewhere a 
" tirst cause n which is not the effect of any prior cause. If 
the series is infinite, then no final and ultimate explanation 
is to be found, ^f there is a first cause, then this first cau sejs 
itself an unexplained fact. It bv explaining a thing we mean 
assi gning a cause for it, then a first cause is by hypothesi s 
unexplained and inexplicabl e, since we cannot assign an y prio r 
yuse to it. To explain the universe by something which is 
itself an ultimate mystery is surely no explanation. 

72. It would seem, then, that causation is a principle 
capable of explaining particular facts but incapable of explain- 
ing the universe as a whole. But when we look a little deeper, 
we find that causation is not really capable of explaining even 
particular facts. Cold solidifies water. Cold is the cause 
(or part of the cause) ; ice is the effect. But it is impossible 
to see why cold should cause solidification. The cause and 
the effect do not resemble each other in any way, nor can one 
see any connection between them. That cold solidifies water 
is an unexplained and mysterious fact which nobody could 
possibly foresee. For anything one could predict to the con- 
trary, cold might just as well turn water into steam. 

This difficulty is not due to our ignorance of intermediate 
causes. The cause A is followed by the effect B. No doubt 
between A, cold, and B, ice, there may be innumerable minute 
molecular or other changes, which occupy so infinitesimal 
a time that human faculties cannot apprehend them. But 
even if we knew all these intermediate causes and effects, 
the whole process would still be a mystery. Suppose the 
series then becomes A, A 1 , A 2 , A 3 ... B. Then the sequence 
A A 1 is just as inexplicable as the sequence A B. For A 1 is 
something different from A ; and the point is that it is impos- 
sible to see how one particular fact can produce an entirely 
different fact. Our difficulty is that we can see no reason why 
A should be followed by B. This is not solved by discovering 
intermediate causes, because it is just as difficult to see 
why A should be followed by A 1 . It is not our insufficient 


knowledge of causes that is at fault. It is the principle of 
causation itself. Causation explains nothing. 1 

Popular thought invariably supposes that any philosophy 
which attempts to explain the universe must do so by means 
of the principle of causation, and in particular by the idea of a 
first cause. Thus idealism is popularly supposed to be the 
philosophy which asserts that the ultimate cause of all things 
is mind. Materialism is supposed to mean that the cause of 
everything is matter. Popular theology looks upon God as 
the cause of the universe. But what we have now shown 
is that this entire mode of explanation is futile. No matter 
whether we say that the first cause is matter, or is a personal 
God, or is mind, or is a vortex-atom, or an electrical force, — 
all such assertions must leave the universe an inexplicable 
mystery. If we became omniscient, if we knew not only the 
first cause but the entire subsequent series of causes and 
effects, we should still be no nearer understanding the uni- 
verse. For in the first place our first cause would be an 
ultimate mystery, an inexplicable fact, and in the second 
place every subsequent sequence of cause and effect would 
be a fresh mystery. We must abandon this entire line of 
thought. We must look for some principle of explanation 
other than causation. 

73. We return to our original question, what is explanation ? 
And we may now frame it in the following way : what kind of 
knowledge about a thing would enable us no longer to regard 
it as a mystery ? Let us speak of one of the greatest mysteries 
in the world, the mystery of evil. When we ask for an explana- 
tion of evil what is it that we want to know ? We do not, 
it is evident, want to know the origin or cause of evil, — 
though it is true that the problem is often called the problem 
of the origin of evil. Suppose someone discovered that the 
existence of evil is caused by the presence of an unknown gas 
in the atmosphere. (That the supposition is an absurd one 

1 It may perhaps be objected that change is here treated as a series of 
discrete phenomena, whereas it is in reality a continuous flow. But even 
if we could formulate our conception of causation in terms of continuity, the 
argument of this section would not be affected. It would still be a mystery 
why one state of things should be followed by a different state of things. 



does not affect our argument) Suppose science isolated this 
gas, discovered its properties, and gained a full knowledge of 
the laws of its operation. Should we be in any way satisfied 
about the problem of evil ? Would this be what we wanted 
to know? Evidently not. We should reply that, despite 
the discovery of its cause, evil still appears to us something 
incomprehensible and irrational. Evidently it is the apparent 
irrationality of evil that constitutes it a mystery. What we 
really want to know is how it is reasonable that evil should 
exist in the world. And this suggests to us that a genuine 
explanation of the universe would consist in showing that the 
universe is rational, in finding for the universe, not a cause, 
but a reason. It suggests that t he first principle of the worl d 
is not a cause of which the wo rld is the effect, but that it. is a 
reason of which the world is the consequent. This is in 
accordance with the results which we reached through the 
consideration of Greek idealism, as will be seen by turning 
bade to the ninth proposition there explicated (39). 

74. If we compare the sequence of reason and consequent 
with the sequence of cause and effect we shall find that it does 
not possess the disadvantages which attach to the latter. We 
could not see why any particular cause should be followed by 
any particular effect. We could not see why cold should be^ 
followed by solidification. But this is just what is not true of 
a reason and consequent. We can see why the consequent 
follows the reason. The reason itself gives us the reason. In 
any train of valid reasoning the conclusion must follow from 
the premises, and we see why. Solidification follows cold. 
We cannot see why this must be so. There does not seem to 
be any necessity in. it. Cold might just as well be followed 
by anything else. But a reason must be followed by its 
consequent. It is a logical necessity, and we understand this 
necessity. We could not deduce solidification from cold. The 
idea of cold does not involve the idea of solidification. But 
we do deduce the consequent from its reason. The idea of the 
reason does involve the idea of the consequent. That is what 
is meant by saying that this consequent follows from that 


If we could logically deduce the world from our first principle 
we should have explained the world. We know that the world 
is a fact, and we know that it is just this particular sort of 
world. What we want is to see why this must be so. If we 
could discover a first principle, and could prove that it follows 
by logical necessity from that first principle that there must be 
a world, and that it must be just the sort of world it is, then 
we should have an explanation. But this can only mean that 
our first principle must be a reason and that the world and all 
it contains must be its logical consequent. It means that we 
must be able to deduce the world logically from the first 
principle. 1 

7^ It is nf yjtal imnnrfanrP tn nnHprc^nrl tW gvnlana- 

tion involves the idea of (logical necessitvJ It is just the 
"apparent absence of necessity in the world which makes us 
complain that it is incomprehensible. Cold produces, ice . 
This is a fact which simpl^is/ We cannot see why ife nustlbe. 
Tt dogmatically asserts itself in the world, without giving any 
reason for itself. It is so, and that is an end of the matter. It 
is just because of this that we cannot understand it and call it 
a mystery. If, instead of being a mere fact, we could see that 
it is a logical necessity ; if we could see the reason of it, and 
that it follows from that reason as necessarily as a logical 
consequent from its antecedent, then we should understand 
it. It would be explained. Thus a philosophy which would 
genuinely explain the world will take as its first principle, not 
a cause, but a reason. From this first reason it will proceed 
to deduce the world, not as an effect, but as a logical conse- 
quent. ^Wp^ hall then s ee not merely th at things arc as they 
are ^but we s hall see^whv they area s they are. This is the 
fundamental Hegelian idea ot explanation. This is what 
Hegel's philosophy attempts to do. And it was for this that 
the Greeks, especially Aristotle, were groping, when they said 
that the first principle of the world is not prior to the world 

1 In this section and those which follow it is assumed that Hegel's tran- 
sition from the Logic to nature is an attempted logical deduction — an 
assumption which is not undisputed. My reasons for taking this view will 
be given in the proper place ; see below (419-22). For an expression of 
the opposite view see Macran, p. 84. 



in time, i.e. as a cause is prior to its effect, but is logically 
prior to the world, i.e. as a logical antecedent is prior to its 

B. Reason as the Universal. 

76. The last section leaves us a legacy of two immediate 
and pressing problems. The first is to ascertain further what 
is meant by reason ; for we have so far formulated only a 
vague conception of it. The second is to clear up the following 
difficulty. Assuming that we can find a first reason of the 
world, will it not involve the same disadvantage as the idea of 
a first cause ? A first cause is an ultimate mystery because it 
is not the effect of a prior cause. Will not a first reason be 
an ultimate mystery because it is not the consequent of any 
prior reason, because, although it is the reason of the world, 
it is itself not accounted for by an earlier reason ? The first 
of these problems will be dealt with in the present section, the 
second in the section which follows. 

77. The universe consists of a multitude of individual things. 
These things may be material entities or they may be psychic 
entities, such as minds, ideas, feelings. But in either case they 
are individual things. Now the first principle of which we are 
in search cannot be itself an individual thing ; for it is the 
reason of individual things. A first cause would itself be a 
thing. But a reason is not a thing. Suppose we were to say, as 
Plato did, that the reason of everything is the Good, that every- 
thing is as it is because it is good that it should be so. The 
Good, on such a view, is not a thing. Individual things are no 
doubt good. But goodness itself is not this or that individual 
good thing. In the same way the reason why a triangle is equi- 
angular may be because it is equilateral. But equilateralness 
is not a thing which exists on its own account independently 
of triangles. Every individual thing exists in time or space. 
But reasons are not things floating about in space. They 
cannot be found by telescopes or microscopes. Nor do they 
exist in time as psychic entities in minds. If there were 
no minds in existence, equilateral triangles would still be 


equiangular, and the reason of this would be just what it 
is now. 

A j-eason is t hus not a thing having a separate existence o f 
its own. It is an abstraction . We speak of a thing and its 
reason as if they were separate. It is, however, only in thoug ht 
that they are s epar ate. The reason of a thing, apart from th e 
thing itself, is an abstraction . Goodness is an abstraction 
from good things, equilateralness an abstraction from equi- 
lateral figures. And t he first principle, or first reason, of the 
world, is not a thing that ex ists apart from the world , we 
must in thought sep arate it from the world r then it is an 
abstraction. But an abstraction is a universal . Therefore 
reasons are universals . And the reason of the world is^ in 
gen eral, the universal. We have reached this result simply by 
considering what is involved in the process of explanation. 
And we see now that it is the same result as we reached by a 
different route in Greek philosophy. The first principle of 
the world, the Absolute, the source from which all things flow, 
is the universal. And the universal is to be regarded as the 
reason of the world, from which the world flows as a logical 
consequent, so that it ought to be possible actually to deduce 
the world from it. 

78. Reason, it may be objected, is the process of arguing, 
not a mere collection of concepts or universals. But if we 
consider any actual argument, such as : 

All poppies are beautiful. 

Some poppies are red. 

Therefore, some red things are beautiful, 
we see that it is nothing but a process of universals. " Poppy " 
is a concept ; so is " red " ; so is 11 beautiful/' " All " and 
11 some n are the categories of totality and plurality. IC Are " 
is the concept of being, or perhaps of inclusion. And if, like 
the formal logician, we proceed to isolate the reasoning process 
from the subject matter to which it is applied and write the 
argument thus : 

All M is P. 
Some M is S. 
Therefore some S is P, 



then the symbols M, S, and P, still represent concepts, but far 
more abstract concepts than before. Thus even from this 
point of view reason is a process of universals. This state- 
ment is not dependent upon what is known in logic as the doc- 
trine of conceptualism. It is not denied that we are arguing 
about real things, poppies, red things, etc. It is not affirmed 
that we are merely reasoning about ideas. The reasoning 
process applies to things. But the reasoning process itself, 
which thus appl ies to things, is a process of ideas or universals . 
That reason, iLS thus regarded, is not merely a collection of 
motionless universals, but is a process^ a movement of uni- 
versal^ by means of which we pass from one universal to 
another^ — this is a very pregnant hint as regards Hegel. But 
it is a hint which we must leave undeveloped at the moment. 
For the present the only point is that the first reason of the 
world consists of universals, or is the universal. This is still, 
of course, exceedingly vague. But this vague principle will 
specify and define itself as we proceed. 

C. Reason as self-determined. 

79. Assuming that we could find the first reason of the world, 
would not this be, like a first cause, an ultimate mystery, a 
mere unexplained fact? That is the second problem with 
which we had to deal. Any first prin ciple by means of wh ich 
we seek to ex plain tbeniftwigSe mii^i" q\ nfic ^sity fulfil two 
conditions . ^Firstly, it must b* ^p*u]* n f ^ plaining the, 
world. We must be able to see how of necessity the world 
arises out of it. This condition is fulfilled by the principle of 
a first reason, but not by the principle of a first cause. 
Granted a first cause, it could not explain the world, because it 
is impossible to see any necessary connection between a cause 
and its effect. But if the first principle be a reason, and if 
we can show that the world is its necessary consequence, 
then the explanation is so far good, because we do see a 
logically necessary connection between reason and consequent. 
The second condition which any first principle must fulfil 
is that it rmifft rxplnin iftpdf. It must be a self-explanatory 


principle. If it is unexplained, then it is an ultimate 
mystery. If it is explained by something other than itself, 
then it is not the first principle. For in that case the other 
something which explains it would itself be a prior and more 
ultimate principle of explanation. Therefore the first princi- 
ple must be such that it is its own explanation. This is not 
the case with a first cause. A first cause would be an existent 
thing of which we should insistently demand a higher cause. 
But reason is a self-explanatory principle. 

80. J Tfrat jj) f[ fi*-gfr pr^iplp must bp splj -explained was 
realised_ by Srjiriqz^r ^pinp^a' s first principle is substanc e, 
and he defines guhg t n nrp m " that which is in itsflf nnfl is 
c onceived throughj jsglfj. t hat, the conception of which dp. es 
not depend nn rhp co nception of another thing from which it 
mus_t be formed." 1 He also describes suj^atanrp as being 
causa sui.its own cause . The word cause ts no doubt used 
_in a wider sense than that in which we have used it here. 
For we have seen that the first principle cannot be regarded 
as a cause of any sort. But this is merely a matter of 
terminology. \ ^hat Spinoza means is that substance is s elf- 
determined an d-^olf'OYplnin^d. That which is determined 
by something other than itself cannot be understood, and so 
cannot be explained, except by reference to that other thing. 

8r. Now reason is the only possible self-explanatory 
principle. To understand this accurately is impossible until 
we have mastered the contents of the Hegelian Logic ; or, at 
least, until we are familiar with its main determinations. But 
meanwhile the following considerations, necessarily at this 
stage very general in character, will afford a preliminary 
insight into the matter. If anything else, other than reason, 
be given as the first principle of things, it is always possible 
for the mind to demand a higher principle. If we say that 
matter is the reason of the world, the question at once arises, 
what is the reason of matter ? But this is so simply because 
matter is not and cannot be a reason^ though it may be 3 
cause. Such a difficulty does not arise in the case of a genuine 
reason. For though it is quite sensible to ask the reason of 
1 Spinoza, Ethics, Definition 3. 



matter, of evil, of this book, of that house, it is absurd to ask 
the reason of reason. The demand fo r an explanation of the 
world means, as has been shown, that we wish it proved to us r 
^ that the world is not a mere fact which is so, but that it is a 
logical necessity. We wish it shown that it does not merely 
assert itself dogmatically to consciousness as a fact, but that 
"It is ratio na^thatit flows from, and is the embod iment of , 
jea son . ^ &g _ ques tio n ^the rationali t y nf rhe wnrlrJ Tf our 
< guest ipn is a nswered, if the world is demonstrated to be 
.rational, we cannot go on to question the rationality of 
g £easo - n. J£o ask that reason jtself should be proved rational 
is to makea ^ deman d which has no meaning. IF we^couIcT 
galri^a^o^iceptTon of wtertr^uf^n-eason iiTifself is, such a 
pure reason would necessarily be wholly rational. And 
nothing further can be asked. Reason is its o wn reason . 
It is. by its very conception, self-explanatory and self- 

82. It may be answered that though these remarks may be 
true of reason in general, they are not true of this or that 
particular reason. The distinction between reason and a 
reason is similar to that between causation and a cause. Cold 
is a cause ; but cold is not causation. Equilateralness is a 
reason — a reason of various properties of a triangle — but it is 
not reason in general. And just as we may demand the cause 
of a cause, so we may ask to know the reason of a reason. A 
train of reasoning may consist of a series of propositions which 
we may call A, B, C, D, etc. C is the reason of which D is the 
consequent. But this reason C is itself the consequent of the 
prior reason B. So that we may ask to know the reason even 
of a reason which is set down as the first reason of the world, — 
just as we should demand the cause of a first cause. 

These considerations show — and this is the answer to the 
objection — tha t- the firs t reas on of the world is nc ^ji reason, 
not this or that particular reason, but is reason itself, reason in 
general, tkfi princi ple of reason. For it Is only ot rationalit y 
, as such t hat wp r annnf demand ^ further re^on And we 
shall find in the Hegelian Logic that it is reason as a whole, 
the entire principle of rationality, which is given as the source 


and foundation of the world. But the detailed explanation 
of this must be postponed for the present. 

D, Pure Thought 

8 ^. If the first principle is reason, and reason consists of 
npiwrs flls. the next qu es tion will be : does this reason cam -'' 
prifift -a ll universal or on'y c ^ mp j SdxPI " nl y snm? y ni \ 
versals are includ ed, on what principle ar e the others excluded ? # 
Ho w are we to know" Which untVefSals are the reason of the 
wo rld and which are not ? ^ ^ 

Hegel found the answer to these questions implied in the 
philosophy of Kant, and it was at this point that Kant made 
possible an advance upon Plato. The first principle by means 
of which Plato sought to explain the universe was what he 
called the world of Ideas, or as we should call it, the system of 
universals. But he made no discrimination among universals. 
Any and every universal was included in his first principle. 
There was the Idea of the horse, the Idea of the table, the Idea 
of the chair, the Idea of the good, the Idea of redness, the 
Idea of dirt, and so ad infinitum. Every conceivable class of 
objects or relations had its Idea. And these Ideas were sup- 
posed to explain the existence of actual things. Thus chairs 
exist in the mundane world because there is the Idea of the 
chair in the world of Ideas. But how and why the Idea of the 
chair should give rise to the actual existence of chairs Plato 
was entirely unable to explain. Even if there is such an Idea 
we cannot see any necessity why it should produce actual 
chairs. And the same is true of the relations between the other 
Ideas and the individual things over which they preside. 

84. Now Kant also had a theory of universals. His 
categories are universals. He did not, of course, regard 
these universals as objective in the way Plato conceived the 
Ideas to be objective. On the contrary, Kant insists that the 
categories are simply subjective concepts of the human mind. 
They are in no sense objectively real entities. Consequently, . 
Kant did not attempt to use his categories as a first principle 
for the explanation of the world. They were not ontological 



principles of being, but only epistemological principles of 
knowing. But his doctrine contained the pregnant hint that 
the categories form a special class of universals distinct from 
all other universals. They are non-sensuous an d a priori^ 
whereas all other universals, such as " red," 14 chair," horse/' 
are sensuous a nd a p osteriori^ These sensuous universals 
are obtained from experience. But the categories are prior 
to all experience because they are the conditions on which 
experience depends. 

Hegel, in searching for a principle of explanation, adopted, 
like Plato, the belief that the first principle consists of objective 
universals. But he took from Kant the thought of a dis- 
tinction between sensuous and non-sensuous universals. The 
latter are the categories or " pure " concepts — pure in the 
sense that they contain nr > ^mng ^^ivtnrp , The first 
principle of the world, the first reason of things, is Tor Heg eL 
not all up ivprsals as w ^ th Pfctn, hut a. system of pure non- 
sensuous universals. 

85. It is not at first sight obvious how such a discrimination 
could help Hegel. But we can get a hint as regards this from 
the separation between things and thought which is effected 
by formal logic. In such an argument as 

All poppies are beautiful. 

Some poppies are red. 

Therefore, some red things are beautiful, 

the entire reasoning involved here is preserved intact in the 
form : 

All M is P. 
Some M is S. 
Therefore, some S is P. 

What is dropped out in this latter form is not any part of the 
reasoning process, every particle of which is retained, but only 
the element of sense. Now we are in search of a principle 
which shall be the reason of things. But the principle that 
reason is the explanation of things obviously involves the 
separation of the things from the reason. If reason is to 
explain things we must not have in the reason any of the 


things which are to be explained. For it is useless to adduce 
as explanation of a thing that very thing itself. We must 
therefore have reason as it is in itself, pure reason. We 
must get wholly rid of the sensuous element, for the sensuous 
element is just the element of 44 things," the things which we 
have to explain. 

Formal logic does to some extent bring about such a separa- 
tion. It abstracts altogether from the things about which 
we reason. It excludes the sensuous element — redness, 
poppies, and the like — and retains only the pure process of the 
reason itself. Hence if we find that any concepts are involy ed 
in the use of the formal syllogism f such concepts will be pure 
Conc epts, and are mn^ likely fn fnrm pari- nf rhp pur* rpasnn 

of whi ch we are in search than concepts invol ve in thp. 
t rnat^rtfl1 fiyllngrtsm But the concepts involved in the formal 
syllogism are just the Kantian categories, " all," 44 some," 
44 are," or totality, plurality, existence, and so on. 

86. But this yields us only a glimmering of the truth which 
Hegel saw. That which explains the world must be before 
the world. It must be prior to the world. For it is a first 
principle. But is this firstness a time-priority or a logical 
priority ? That it is not a time-priority became evident in 
our discussion of Greek idealism. The ninth proposition (39) 
in which we summed up the results there attained stated : 
<c This first principle is first only in the sense that it holds 
logical priority over all things. It is not first in order of time." 
What is first in order of time would be a cause. It is the 
causal sequence which is a time^equence. A first principle 
Tgh ich was b efore the world j^.timd-wxi uld have t o be regarded 
as the cau sg^^^fSejywId. But our principle is not a first 
cause. It is a reason. It is the reason of which the world 
is the consequent. And a reason is not before its consequent 
in order of time. Its priority is a logical priority. 

Now the Kantian categories are prior to the world in just 
this sense. It is true that Kant would not have used such a 
phrase as that the categories are 44 prior to the world." What 
he said was that the categories are prior to experience. But 
experiencgj'r the world. Experience was the term Kant used 


because he looked at everything from a subjective and epis- 
temological point of view. "Rut what js, su bjectively, o ur 
experience, i s, objectively con sidered, thf w^rfn Fnr the 
Kantian term 44 experience " means all possible experience , 
whether it be experience of ou tward objects in space or 
experience of inward objects such as teelings and thOUght sr 
It thus includes all possible objects in space, and all possible 
psychic entities. Experience, therefore, is coterminous with 
tjift univprse. ~ " 

87. The Kantian categories, then, are prior to the world. 
Moreover, they include only pure universals. Sensuous 
universals, such as 11 chair," 44 horse," 44 white," are not prior 
to the world. For non-sensuous universals are universal and 
necessary and are, therefore, the conditions of experience, but 
sensuous universals are not so. It wo uld be imp ossible to 
.have experience, i.e. to have a world, without these pure 

lini YPrf'al fi, — Xhaf is whp-t is mpant hy saying that FTiey arf> 

gT6cessa c£> But it would be quite possible to have a world 
without these sensuous universals. Take, for example, the 
concept 44 white," It is quite easy to imagine a world in which 
there should be no white things. Or again, it is quite easy to 
picture a universe in which such concepts as 11 chair," u horse," 
have no application. But this is not the case with such 
concepts as 41 unity," 44 plurality," 14 existence," 44 non- 
existence," 44 substance." ' A world without unity is incon- 
ceivable. Any conceivable world must itself be one world. 
And it must contain objects each of' which is one object. 
11 Many," again, is just as much a necessary attribute of any 
conceivable world as 44 one." The same applies to totality, 
affirmation, negation, existence. It is impossible to think of 
a world of which nothing could be affirmed or denied, in which 
we could not say 41 is " and 44 is not " about things. 

88. Categories, then, constitute just the kind of first prin- 
ciple of explanation of which we are in search. The cate- 
gories must be the reason of which the world is the consequent, 
and if we can show this in detail we shall have therein an 
explanation of the universe. But it will be seen that this 
imposes upon the categories a duty which we have not as yet 


seen any reason to suppose them capable of performing. We 
have proved that th e categories arp. the logic? 1 cjpjiditiaa ^ +Yr 
world. But though we can argue back from a fact to its logical 
conditions, we cannot always reverse the process and argue 
forward from the conditions to the fact. In this respect 
logical conditions resemble causal conditions. If it rains 
we can argue that there must be clouds in the sky, because 
clouds are a necessary causal condition of rain. But we cannot 
argue that because there are clouds there must be rain, for 
clouds often appear when there is no rain. In just the same 
way, it would seem, though we have proved that the cate- 
gories are a necessary condition of the world, it does not follow 
that the world is a necessary consequent of the categories. 
But to prove this is essential if we are genuinely to explain the 
world. A real explanation must show that, granted our first 
principle, the world necessarily follows. And since the first 
principle is related to the world r not as cause to effect, but as 
reason to consequent, t his^ means that the world must b e 
logically deduced f rom the catppforfe s just as a conclusion is 
deduced trom its premises. We cannot at present see how this 
is to be done. Suppose we grant that the categories are 
ontological realities which are prior to the world. Why, it 
may be asked, should t%?y profj llre a wnr 1d ? H ow does the 
worl<fl follow from the categories ? Why should they no t 
remain in t hemselves what tfr fry are for all en mity withou t 
any world arising t w e were unable to see that, even if we 
granted the reality of Plato's Idea of the chair, this in any way 
explains the actual existence of particular chairs.. And we 
are now unable to see that, even granted the reality and 
priority of categories, this explains the existence of things. 
To answer these questions we must demonstrate that the 
categories necessarily give rise to a world, that they are a 
reason from which the world follows as consequent ; and we 
can only do this by deducing the world logically from the 

Now in carrying out this task Hegel found that he could 
get no help at all from Kant. Explanation here involves 
two conditions. Ka nf gave hi™ Hp ban rn^7%>w^r 



I fre other for h imself. The first condition is that the cate- 

gories must be the logift a ^ conditions nf ttiF wnrlri KanL 

showed that they are so. The second condition is that the 
world must he de^ucible from the categfilfes as fhnr Logical 
consequent. To show how this as possible was the special 
discovery of Hegel, the secret of his dialectic method. We 
cannot at this stage give any indications of how Hegel solved 
this problem. We shall take up that point at a later stage, 
turning our attention meanwhile to other considerations. 

89. There are several ways in which a beginner's mind is 
liable to serious confusion and mistake as regards the reality 
of an alleged sphere of pure thought, or pure non-sensuous 
universals. The chief difficulty is that the unsophisticated 
mind always insists upon regarding the assertion of their 
ontological reality as equivalent to an assertion of their 
existence. When it is said that the first principle of the world, 
the Absolute, is a system of categories, — a whole train of 
popular but erroneous ideas is apt to spring up in the mind. 
This system of categories is the first principle; it is that which 
was Cl before all the worlds, 1 1 and the world is its creation. 
Hence, it is thought, the categories must have been in exis- 
tence billions of years ago, before the universe was made. 
But how is this possible ? Where were the categories ? 
Where are they now ? Are they hidden in the remote spaces 
beyond the stars ? No, for this would involve that they are 
material things. Does this mean, then, that they are non- 
material things, psychic entities, souls or spirits ? Do they 
constitute a sort of soul of the world ? And then, if they 
existed before the world was made, how can we conceive this ? 
How, for example, could the category of u cause " exist all 
alone by itself without any actual causes and effects ? How can 
" unity n exist without being a unity of something ? What do 
we mean by 11 one " existing before the world, before there was 
one horse, or one man, or one planet, or one anything else ? 

Now if Hegelianism is thus interpreted it naturally gets 
regarded as mere learned gibberish, which is not the less 
gibberish because it is learned. But Hegel does not teach any 
of these absurdities. No one, indeed, can say where the 


categories are for the simple reason that they are nowhere. 
They are not 41 things " which existed before the world began. 
They are neither material nor psychic things. They do not 
exist, never have existed, and never will exist. They are pure 
abstractions. Nevertheless they are real. This means that 
their being is independent, whereas the being of 11 things " 
is dependent upon them. Things are dependent upon them 
because, as Kant showed, they are the necessary conditions 
of the world. The world could have no existence without 
them. Its being is dependent upon theirs. But they depend 
for their being only upon themselves. This last statement 
can only be proved in detail by the whole argument of the 
Hegelian Logic. But in a general way we have already seen 
that the system of categories constitutes reason, and that 
reason is its own reason, is self-explained and self-determined. 
And this means that it is dependent only upon itself. And 
this in turn means that it is real. 

90. As for the other difficulty, that it is impossible to con- 
ceive of unity which is not the unity of something, of " one " 
by itself apart from one man, one horse, or one object of some 
kind, — this difficulty is based upon the same misapprehension 
as the last. What it means is that it is impossible to conceive 
ol 11 one " existing apart from one thing. And this is per- 
fectly true. But Hegel never supposed that the unity can 
exist apart from that of which it is the unity. The separation 
between them is only a logical separation, a separation in 
thought. The category of quantity cannot exist by itself. 
There must be a quantity of butter, of manure, of iron, or of 
something else. The quantity and the butter cannot be 
separated in fact. We cannot put the quantity in one pocket 
and the butter in another. But they can be separated in 
thought. We can abstract from the butter, the iron, or the 
manure. The thought of butter is logically separable from the 
thought of quantity, simply because it is a different thought. 
The thought of quantity is not the same as the thought of 
butter. That is all that is meant. 

91. It is only another form of the same confusion when it 
is objected to Hegel, on psychological grounds, that concepts 



as mental processes are subsequent to perceptions, and come 
after the consciousness of individual objects. This, it is 
supposed, constitutes a fatal objection to the Hegelian 
doctrine that universals, the categories, are prior to experience 
and to the world. Now, no one, least of all Hegel, would ever 
dream of denying the psychological fact that the consciousness 
of particular things comes earlier than the consciousness of 
universals. Hegel is quite aware of this fact, although, as a 
rule, he considers it too obvious even to be worth stating. 
But it is quite irrelevant to our point, which is that the 
categories are prior to sense-perceptions, not in time but in 
logical order of thought. No doubt we, as individual sub- 
jects, get to know about causation by studying the world 
around us, and in this sense the concept of causation, or any 
other concept, is posterior to perception and is derived from 
experience. But what we come to know last is l ogically first, 
just as we often learn a fact before we know the reasons for it. 
Animals and infants may not have the idea of unity. Children 
learn it only by coming into contact with things, only from 
experience. Not till we have seen one horse, one cow, one 
tree, do we form the idea of one. But a lthough we only 
became conscious of this idea late in our mental experienc e, 
yet it was implicitly presen t in our crude sensations and 
percep tions from the first. Those perceptions would have 
been impossible without it, and it is, therefore, the condition 
of the perceptions, and has logical priority over them. It is 
just the same with Hegel's categories as it was with Kant's 
space and time. We saw that Kant's assertion that space and 
time are forms of our intuition which are prior to all experience 
was not invalidated by, and has nothing to do with, the 
psychologist's analysis of the way in which we become aware 
of space and time through experience. Space and time are 
logically prior to experience, because they are the conditions 
of it. This does not mean that we become aware of space and 
time before we have any experience. It is the same with the 

This psychological confusion is the brother of the popular 
confusion previously discussed. The questions how we are to 


conceive of the categories existing before the world and apart 
from actual things arose from supposing that Hegel believed 
the categories to be objective existences. The present con- 
fusion arises from supposing that he regards them as sub- 
jective existences, i.e. as subjective concepts existing in minds. 
Subjective concepts come to exist in the mind late in its 
development. But categories, as objective realities, are prior 
to all subje ctive minds and to the world. 

92. Another psychological misunderstanding consists in 
saying that pure non-sensuous thought is an impossibility. 
There is, it is said, no such thing. We cannot completely 
separate the non-sensuous form from its sensuous filling. 
Every thought is accompanied by images and we cannot 
have the thought without the sensuous images. Now, even 
regarded as psychology, this statement is very doubtful. 
Psychologists now, apparently, believe that concepts entirely 
without images are possible. 1 But whether this is so or not 
the whole matter is entirely irrelevant to our present enquiry. 
When we say that pure thought is the first principle and 
foundation of the world, there is no question of what we can 
or cannot think, but only of what objectively is. It may be a 
fact that, by reason of association, I cannot think of an east 
wind without at the same time thinking of a cold in the head. 
It may be a fact that I cannot think of quantity, cause, unity, 
and the like, without some vague image floating before my 
mind. But the east wind is, quite independently of the cold 
in the head. And the category is, quite independently of my 
images. The thought of quantity is logically separate and 
distinct from the thought of any sensuous object. It is quite 
irrelevant whether the two thoughts are psychologically 
separate or not. The present psychological objection is based, 
like the others, on the confusion in the popular mind between 
reality and existence. For this objection merely asserts that 
subjective concepts cannot exist in minds without some kind 
of sensuous attachment. But what we have contended is, 
not that pure universals can exist apart from a sensuous 

1 See, for example, Aveling's Consciousness of the Universal and the 



filling, either objectively in the external world, or subjectively 
in minds, but only that the categories are logically separable 
from any such sensuous matter. 

93. It must be admitted, however, that the inability to 
think purely, to think without an accompaniment of pictorial 
images, is a grave impediment to the understanding of philo- 
sophy, especially the philosophy of Hegel. It is this pictorial 
thinking which is the cause of most of the confusions we are 
trying^ to clear up. If Hegel makes a statement about a 
category, the reader is apt to think of it as, or in close associa- 
tion with, an image. Then the image gets mistaken for the 
category. And since every image is sensuous in character, 
since every image is an image of something as existing in time 
or space, the result is that the category too is taken for an 
existence. It must have been just such a mental confusion 
which led Parmenides to picture Being as globe-shaped. He 
must have substituted an image for the pure thought, and as 
every image must have some shape or outline, he began to 
ask himself what shape Being has. In just the same way it 
must have been the habit of pictorial thought which led Plato 
into supposing that the Ideas exist as things in some other 
world beyond this. And it is pictorial thinking again which 
prevents people from understanding such assertions of Hegel 
as that 14 being M is identical with " nothing." Hegel is here 
speaking of the pure categories, being and nothing. And so 
long as this is kept in mind the statement is perfectly intel- 
ligible. But immediately images obtrude themselves, being is 
mistaken for the particular being of some individual object such 
as this house. Then people ask incredulously whether it is the 
same thing for this house to be and not to be. And so the 
statement is turned into an absurdity. If we are to understand 
Hegel we must learn to think in the abstract, to move freely 
among pure thoughts, and to keep sensuous images out of our 
minds, or at least not to mistake them for pure thoughts. 

£. Knowing and Being. 

94. The categories began their history, so far as modern 
philosophy is concerned, in the system of Kant, where they 


appeared as subjective mental processes, concepts. In 
Hegel they get transformed into objective ontological entities, 
having a being independent of any particular mind. How 
has this come about ? What grounds are there for regarding 
them in this new way ? Now we have seen that Kant's own 
assertion that the categories are prior to all experience really 
implies this, since what is prior to experience is prior to the 
world, and prior, therefore, to any particular mind. But we 
shall have to look more profoundly into this transformation of 
subjective concept into ontological reality. For it is the crux 
of all idealism. 

95. In the first place, Hegel had exactly the same grounds 
for asserting the objectivity of categories as Plato had for 
asserting the same of universals in general. Any existing 
object, say a stone, turns out on analysis to be nothing but a 
congeries of universals. There is nothing there except the 
whiteness, roundness, hardness, etc. All these elements of 
the stone are universals* Therefore to deny the objectivity 
of the universals is to deny the objectivity of the stone. It 
may be objected that this proves too much. It proves, if 
anything, not merely that categories, i.e. non-sensuous 
universals, are objective, but that all universals including 
such purely sensuous universals as 14 chair," 41 house," etc., 
are objective. This, it seems, would contradict Hegel in 
favour of Plato. Moreover, the stone is objective in the 
sense of existing. And the argument that universals are 
objective because the stone is objective would seem to mean 
that, because the stone exists, the universals must exist; 
whereas our whole point is that categories have reality but 
not existence. 

The reply to the latter objection is that it is the stone which 
exists, not the universals of which it is composed. The 
congeries of universals exist, because, taken together, the 
universals constitute an individual. But each universal, 
taken separately, is a mere abstraction, not an individual, 
and therefore does not exist. Turning to the former objection, 
namely, that our argument would prove the objectivity of all 
universals and not merely of categories, we see that the diffi- 



culty lies in the following point. We have asserted that the 
categories are real but do not exist. Now our argument tends 
to show that even sensuous universals are objective. But 
sensuous universals do not exist. Hence, apparently, the only 
kind of objectivity which we can attribute to them is reality. 
And in that case what difference is there between categories 
and sensuous universals ? And if sensuous universals are 
real, this implies that they constitute part of the first prin- 
ciple of the world, and that Hegel was wrong and Plato right 
as regards the nature of the ultimate reality. Now this 
problem, it must be confessed, is never directly faced in the 
writings of Hegel. And we shall see in a later chapter that 
it is connected with the greatest difficulty of the Hegelian 
philosophy, the transition from Logic to Nature. We may, 
however, even at this point, develop our own solution. All 
universals, we wo uld say, have obj e^tiyej^eing^-init categorie s 
have an putepend ent objective being while sensuous universals 
have only a. dependent objective being." For the categories 
are the logical cond itions!)!" all "experience, of all conscious- 
ness, and there fore" ot t hat part of c^ris^oushess~wTiich coa- 
s ists in sensuous univer sal^ This means t hat in logical order 
the jrategories come jirst f and thatjtj)ught to be possible to 
deduc e sensuous univer sals from the categories as their logical 
conseque nts^ And we shall, in the~rlght place, argue that this 
is what Hegel was actually trying to do in his philosophy of 
nature, though he himself perhaps imperfectly realized the 
fact. Meanwhile we may note that, if this be the true view, 
it involves the recognition of three distinct kinds of being. 
The categories have independent being and absolute logical 
priority. This is reality , ^ensuous universals have dependent 
being which is yet not existence since they are universal and 
not individua l. This may be called subsistence. Lastly, 
individual objects have existenc e. 

96. But the ultimate foundation of the belief in the objec- 
tivity of universals consists in what is sometimes called the 
identity of knowing and being. The word being is used some- 
what loosely here to mean external being — the object of 
consciousness in general as opposed to the subject. The 


phrase means that the subject (the side of knowing), and the 
object (the side of being), are identical. Subject and object 
are not two independent realities external to one another. 
They do not face each other as two absolutely different en- 
tities. They are identical because they are but two different 
aspects of one reality. And the ground for this assertion is 
that, if we do not accept it, the problem of how knowledge is 
possible appears to be insoluble. 

All knowledge is conceptual. We know nothing of any 
object except through the concepts which we apply to it. 
Every word in language stands for a concept, and any kind of 
thought without concepts is an impossibility. Now from this 
we have inferred that the object itself is no more than a con- 
geries of universals, and therefore that universals are objective. 
But at this point common sense supposes that it scents a 
fallacy. Doubtless, says common sense, we can only think 
an object by means of concepts. But that is merely due to 
the construction of our minds. It does not imply anything as 
to the nature of the object as it exists in itself outside our 
minds. We think of the thing in concepts. But the thing 
itself may be something quite different. 

97. Now it will be seen at once that this rests upon the 
supposition that there exists a thing in itself, outside our 
minds, a thing which may be totally different from the thing 
as it appears to us. This objection is, in fact, nothing but the 
old Kantian theory of the unknowable thing-in-itself, cham- 
pioned now by common sense. If the thing itself is something 
quite different from the thing as it appears to us, if it is some- 
thing different from what our thought and the construction 
of our minds makes of it, then it is unknowable. And we 
have seen that this theory is self- contradictory. So we are 
driven back to our conclusion that the object is relative to the 
subject, and this implies the objectivity of universals. If 
the object is something quite different from that which thought 
makes of it, then subject and object, knowing and being, are 
two incommensurable opposite realities, facing each other, 
cut off from each other by an impassable chasm. The object 
is unknowable. Knowledge is impossible. We hold, there- 



fore, that the object itself is precisely what thought makes of 
it. This is the identity of knowing and being. 

98. To repudiate the superstition of the unknowable thing- 
in-itself is to establish the principle of the identity of knowing 
and being. Being means being for consciousness. And there 
is no being other than being for consciousnes s. An object 
is not an object unless it stands in relation to a subjec t. Jhe 
univers e is nothing but the content of consciousness . If we 
deny these truths we land ourselves in the quagmire of con- 
tradictions connected with the theory of the unknowable. But 
if we admit them we are bound to admit also the objectivity 
of conc epts or universal s. For then the object is wholly 
and solely the object as we know it. And we know it only as 
a congeries of universals . And if we accept this view we are 
committed to an objective idealism. 

The identity of knowing and being is, in fact, the basic 
principle of a ll idealis m. The philosophies of Plato and 
Aristotle depend absolutely upon it. But whereas the 
Greeks na'fvely assumed it as a matter of course, for Hegel it 
has become a consciously formulated part of philosophy. 

99. But if subject and object are identical they are also 
o'istinc,] :. It is certain that, in some sense or other, the objec t 
stands over against me. It is the not-self. That knowing, 
and being are identical and vet distinct is . in fact, an example 
of the famous Hegelian principle of the identity of opposites. 
We have not yet explained that principle. Consequently, the 
exact relations between knowing and being cannot as yet be 
fully expounded. 1 But we may say at once that their identity 
is compatible with their difference. That the thing is identical 
with the thought, — this means that there is no absolute separa- 
tion between subject and object, for the object is within the 
subject . That the thing is different from the thought, — thi s 
means that the subject expels part of itself, viz. the object , 
from itself, and opposes itself to i t. This stone is certainly 
external to me. It is not-me. This is the separation of 
knowing and being. But the stone is still within the unity of 

1 The complete solution will be found in the Logic. See below (§§ $&2 to 


thought. V jt^js^hot ^jjd^J^aLjo^ me the se nse that it is 
something utterly outside t hought, unkn owable. This is the 
identity of knowing and being. And the same thing is 
sometimes expressed by Hegel by saying that thought over- 
reaches the gulf between itself and its object, — or that the 
separation* between thought and thing is a separation within 
thought itself. If the thing could break away completely 
from the unity of thought, it would become an unknowable 
thing-in-itself. And that is impossible. 

ioo. To keep the identity of knowing and being firmly 
before our minds will often assist us to understand passages in 
Hegel which would otherwise appear very puzzling. For 
example, the reader who comes to Hegel with the fixed idea 
that materialism and idealism are irreconcileable opposites 
will be astonished to find that Hegel regards materialism as 
itself a crude kind of idealism and seeks to show that it is 
possible to develop his own idealistic views out of it. Here, 
for example, is such a passage : " All philosophy is essentially 
idealism, or at least possesses it as its principle, and the 
question is only how far it has carried out the principle. . . . 
The principles of the ancient or modern philosophies, water, 1 
or matter,^ atoms, are thoughts, universals, . . . not things." 2 
To say that the atom is really a thought, and therefore that_ 
the materialism of Democritus is a form of idealism, appears 
strange to our ordinary modes of thought. The key to the 
difficulty is the identity of knowing and being. Hegel quite 
recognizes the distinction between materialism and idealism, 
but what he contends is that if Democritus had understood the 
identity of knowing and being he would have been forced 
beyond materialism into some kind of idealism. For mater- 
ialism really depends upon the complete separation of knowledge 
and its object, and this is its fundamental fallacy. It supposes 
that the object, matter, is something absolute, which is on its 
own account, quite independent of mind. It believes that 
the object can have being apart from the knowing subject. 
Atomism alleges that this thing, the atom, is the ultimate 

1 The reference, of course, is to Thales. 

8 Greater Logic, first section, chapter ii., final ' remark/ 



reality. Let it be so. But what is this thing ? It is nothing 
but a congeries of universals, such perhaps as " indestructible,'* 
" indivisible," " small," " round," etc. All these are univer- 
sal, or thoughts. " Atom " itself is a concept. Hence even 
out of this materialism proceeds idealism. 

IOI. Another source of perplexity in Hegel is the fact that 
he claims to have incorporated all previous philosophies into 
his system by merely including in his list of categories the 
names of the most important conceptions of earlier philo- 
sophers. Thus being and substance appear among the 
Hegelian categories. Now being was the most important 
conception in the philosophy of Parmenides. By merely 
inserting the category of being in the Logic Hegel claims to 
have embodied in his system the philosophy of the Eleatics. 
And by including substance among his categories he claims 
to have appropriated the central truth of Spinoza. Now to 
this procedure the tyro in Hegel will almost certainly raise 
some such objection as the following. The Hegelian Absolute 
is a system of categories, or thoughts. But the Absolute of 
Spinoza is not of the nature of thought at all. Spinoza did 
not say that the Absolute is the thought of substance, the 
category of substance. He said that the Absolute is sub- 
stance itself. He was not an idealist but a pantheist. He 
did not believe that the Absolute is a system of categories, 
nor that it is a single category, such as that of substance. 
Hegel regards the Absolute as thought. Spinoza regards it 
as something quite different from thought, namely sub- 
stance. And Spinoza expressly declared that substance is 
not thought, for he said that thought is merely one of the 
attributes of substance. Thus Hegel's assertion that the 
category of substance is one of the categories which con- 
stitute the Absolute is a position totally different from 
Spinoza's position, and therefore Hegel had no right to 
identify the two positions or to maintain that he had 
incorporated Spinoza. 

The key to the difficulty is the principle of the identity of 
knowing and being. Spinoza no doubt supposed that sub- 
stance itself is something quite different from the thought, 


or category, of substance. But, understanding the principle 
of the identity of knowing and being, we see that this thing, 
substance, is nothing else than the universal, the category. 
Spinoza did not realize this because he was affected by the 
modern idea that there is an absolute separation between 
things and thoughts. This idea was originated by Descartes 
and dominates modern philosophy until it culminates in Kant, 
whose philosophy is nothing else than the reductio ad 
absurdum of it. The truth is that substance is a universal, 
as should be obvious from the fact that it is an abstraction. 
It abstracts from all attributes. Substance itself and the 
thought of substance are one and the same thing. 

102. Exactly the same difficulty may be illustrated by the 
following passage from Hegel : 44 Being itself/' he says, lt and 
the special sub-categories of it, as well as those of Logic in 
general, may be looked upon as definitions of the Absolute." 1 
The categories, then, are definitions of the Absolute. Does this 
mean that the categories themselves are the Absolute, or does 
it mean that they are descriptions or definitions of something 
else which is the Absolute ? This is the kind of question 
which puzzles a reader who has not yet grasped the central 
Hegelian idea. The answer is that it makes no difference 
whether we say that the categories are the Absolute, or whether 
we say that they are definitions of the Absolute. The two 
statements mean exactly the same thing. This difficulty, as 
well as that about Spinoza's substance, arises from an errone- 
ous view of the nature of knowledge. It is supposed that we 
have concepts in our mind, and that outside our mind there is 
some sort of a 44 thing/' and that the concept in some way 
fits on to the thing, and that this fitting of the concept to the 
thing is knowledge. There is the category of substance on 
the one hand, and there is the substance itself on the other. 
And the category 44 applies to " this external thing, the sub- 
stance. Or there are the categories on the one side, and there 
is a thing called the Absolute on the other, and if these cate- 
gories correctly fit on to that thing, then they are good defini- 
tions of the Absolute. Now this whole point of view has to 
l Wal., Log., §85. 



be scrapped. It depends upon the theory that there is a 
" thing M outside the mind, something quite different from the 
concepts of the mind itself. It depends upon the theory of 
the thing-in-itself, which is perpetually cropping up, in new 
forms, even after it has been exploded in the form which 
Kant gave to it. It depends, again, upon the theory of the 
absolute separation of subject and object, upon the denial 
of the principle of the identity of knowing and being. 
The categories are definitions, concepts, or thoughts, of the 
Absolute. But the definition and that which it defines, the 
category and the Absolute itself, are one and the same thing. 
The stone is not an external thing-in-itself to which the 
universals " white," " round," " hard," etc., are applied. The 
stone is the universals. And the Absolute is not a mysterious 
something to which the categories, being, substance, cause, 
etc., apply. The Absolute is the categories. Yet there is 
also distinction at the same time as identity. 11 Whiteness," 
" roundness," 11 hardness," looked at from the subjective 
point of view are our concepts, part of our consciousness, 
part of the subject. Looked at objectively, they are 
objective universals, part of the object. And the categories, 
too, are, on the one hand, our mental forms, while on the 
other hand they are objective entities, and as such are the 

103. Failure to understand these principles is almost uni- 
versal, not only among students and beginners, but even 
among philosophical writers of the highest repute. . It 
explains, for example, the common complaint against Hegel 
that his Absolute is nothing but a collection of empty abstrac- 
tions. Mr. Bradley criticises the Hegelian Absolute as no 
more than an 11 unearthly ballet of bloodless categories." If 
Hegel, instead of saying that the Absolute is the categories, 
had said that the Absolute is some kind of solid things and that 
the categories apply to it, these critics, it seems, would have 
raised no clamour. Hegel said that the Absolute is the 
categories, cause, substance, being, quality, etc. At this the 
critics are furious. But had he said that the Absolute is 
something which is a cause, is a substance, has being, has 


quality, etc., they would have been silent. They would have 
imagined that this was to conceive the Absolute, not as a mere 
abstraction or collection of abstractions, but as something 
solid, real, and substantial. Yet the first statement, to which 
the critics object, and the second to which they agree, are 
identical in meaning. The Hegelian may be asked whether, 
in his view, the Absolute is the category of substance or sub- 
stance itself, whether it is the category of quality, or something 
which has quality, whether' it is the category of being, or 
something which is. His reply must be that these distinctions 
are illegitimate. Substance itself is the category of sub- 
stance, just as the stone is the universals " white, 1 ' " round," 
11 hard,' 1 etc. If the critic so desires, the Hegelian will quite 
admit that the Absolute is substance itself, etc., but he will 
add the proviso that though this formula, properly understood, 
is unobjectionable, it is highly objectionable and must be 
repudiated if it is a cloak under which lurks the thought that 
there is a mysterious thing-in-itself, outside thought, to which 
the categories of substance, cause, etc., merely apply in an 
external fashion. 

F. Monism and the Deduction of the Categories. 

104. Explanation necessarily means monism. A tendency 
towards monism has always been evident in philosophy. But 
the philosophical basis of monism was first definitely 
enunciated by Spinoza. Spinoza saw that the first principle 
of the universe must be a single principle, and that this 
principle must be a unity. For the ultimate reality is only 
real in virtue of the fact that it is dependent on nothing out- 
side itself. To be thus self-dependent is to be self-determined. 
And what is self-determined must be a unity. For if there be 
two ultimate realities, the one is limited, and therefore deter- 
mined, by the other* And in that case neither is self-deter- 

105. This is the philosophical basis of monism. But even 
in popular attempts at explanation the monistic principle is 
always a guiding idea. It appears in religion in the form of 



monotheism, and it appears even in empirical science. Facts 
are explained by causes ; this means that a multitude of 
particulars are subsumed under a single law. And the laws 
are in turn explained by being subsumed under more general 
laws. Such a process of explanation would find its goal only 
in the reduction of everything in the universe to a single 

106. But if monism is a necessity of thought, the history of 
philosophy has shown that an absolute or abstract monism 
defeats its own end. The Absolute must be one ; but it must 
also be many. To exclude the many altogether from our 
conception of it is to cut off all possibility of deriving the 
manifoldness of the actual world from it. The many can only 
issue from the one if, in some sense or other, the many is already 
present in the one. From the Eleatic abstract one there is no 
passage to the actual world. Nor is there from the one of the 
Neo-Platonists. And the philosophy of Spinoza is itself an 
example of a system ending in absolute dualism because it 
attempts to establish an absolute and abstract monism. The 
substance of Spinoza is a unity utterly excludent of all 
multiplicity. Hence it is quite impossible to see how substance 
can give rise to its many attributes, namely, thought, exten- 
sion, and the rest. 

107. That the Absolute must be a many in one was dimly 
seen by Plato. In the Parmenides he showed that the notion 
of the one and the notion of the many involve each other so 
that the one without the many is unthinkable. And his own 
Absolute, the world of Ideas, is a many in one. It is many 
because it contains many Ideas. It is one because these Ideas 
constitute a single organized system of Ideas under the final 
unity of the Idea of the Good. Just as all white things are 
subsumed under the Idea of whiteness, so a number of Ideas, 
such as whiteness, redness, blueness, are subsumed under a 
higher Idea, that of colour. Colour, again, taste, and so on, 
would presumably be subsumed under the Idea of quality. 
Ultimately we should in this way reach one supreme Idea, 
under which all other Ideas whatever are subsumed. And, 
according to Plato this supreme Idea is the Idea of the Good. 


1 08. Now suppose we represent a fragment of Plato's 
system by some such diagram as this : — 

Idea of the Good. 

Idea of Quality. 

Idea of Idea of 

Colour. Taste. 

Idea of Idea of 

Whiteness. Blueness. 

' y ' 

Individual white objects. 

If this diagram could be completed, we should have all 
individual objects, i.e. the entire universe, at the bottom, 
and all the Ideas would appear in their proper places above. 
And the question we have now to ask ourselves is, how would 
such a system, even if satisfactorily completed, explain the 
universe ? Why, for example, do white objects exist ? 
They exist, according to Plato, because there is an Idea of 
whiteness in the world of Ideas. The Idea of whiteness 
produces white things. Now, assuming for a moment that the 
Idea of whiteness does thus satisfactorily explain the existence 
of white things, still the Idea of whiteness is itself unexplained. 
Why is there an Idea of whiteness ? Because, apparently, 
there is an Idea of colour. Then why is there an Idea of 
colour ? Because there is an Idea of quality. Why an Idea 
of quality ? Because there is an Idea of the Good. Why an 
Idea of the Good ? Here we come to a stop. There is no 
higher Idea to explain the Idea of the Good, and it is, there- 
fore, unexplained. It is a dogmatic fact, an ultimate mystery. 

109. But apart from the fact that the supreme Idea is a 
mere unexplained fact, it is clear that the Idea of whiteness 
does not really explain the existence of white objects, the Idea 
of colour does not explain the Idea of whiteness, nor is any 


other step in the explanation genuinely satisfactory. Even 
granting that there is an Idea of whiteness we cannot see how 
it explains the existence of white objects. Their existence 
does not follow as a logical necessity from the Idea of white- 
ness. If we could see that, granted the Idea of whiteness, 
there must be white things, if we could deduce the white things 
from their Idea, then only should we have an explanation. 
In just the same way we ought to be able to deduce the Idea 
of whiteness from the Idea of colour, that from the Idea of 
quality, and that again from the Idea of the Good. Finally, 
it ought to be possible to deduce all the lower Ideas from the 
supreme Idea of the Good. 

Even this would leave the Idea of the Good an ultimate 
mystery. To complete the explanation we must show that 
the Idea of the Good, since it cannot be explained by anything 
higher than itself, is self-explanatory, i.e. self-determined. 
Or, in the alternative, we might show, not that the Idea of the 
Good is self-determined, but that the entire world of Ideas, 
considered as a totality, is such a self-determined whole that 
it constitutes a satisfactory first principle, or first reason, of 
the w T orld. In this case, what we require to prove is, that 
every separate Idea logically involves every other separate 
Idea, and that the world of Ideas as a whole is an organic, 
self-explained, self-determined, unity, and finally that the. 
actual world of objects follows by logical deduction from this 
self-determined unity. Such a system would meet the require- . 
ment of a concrete monism . .Its Absolute, its first principle^ 
would be a many in one. As a self-contained, self-determined , 
totality, it would be one. As a mul tiplicity of Ideas it would 
be many. 

no. Hegel's Logic contains just su ch an attemp t . Instead 
of Plato's Ideas, which included even sensuous universals, we 
now have categories. But these Hegelian categories con- 
stitute no mere aggregate or miscellaneous heap of universals 
like Plato's world of Ideas. Hegel deduces the categories from 
one another. Just as Plato should have shown that the Idea 
of colour can be logically deduced from the Idea of quality, so 
now Hegel proves that the category of cause can be deduced 


from the category of substance. He shows that every single 
category necessarily and logically involves every other single 
category. Kant had named twelve categories. But he made 
no effectual attempt to deduce them from one another. There 
was no reason why he should do so, because the categories 
were for him not an ontological principle of explanation of the 
universe, but merely subjective epistemological forms of our 
minds. But the fact remains that he did not deduce them. 
He merely threw down the twelve categories as so many 
unexplained facts. A man has twelve categories in his mind 
just as he has ten toes on his feet. That is fact ; and that is 
the end of the matter, — as far as Kant is concerned. 

Such dogmatism was quite sufficient for Kant because he 
only aimed at analyzing the human mind. If he could state 
the facts correctly, his object was attained. But as soon as 
the categories are converted from subjective concepts into 
objective realities which are to constitute the first principle 
of the world, the case is entirely altered. It will not do to 
name twelve categories and to say that they constitute the 
first principle. For in that case we have not one first prin- 
ciple, but twelve first principles. And monism forbids this. 
Qxxr first principle is to be many in on e. It w ill be many , 
because it contains many categories. And it can only b e 
shown to be also one by fusing these many categories into a 
single rationally articulated organic whole, each part of wh ich 
runs on continuously into, i.e. logically leads to, ever y other 
part. If the categories are, as, with Kant, simply isolated 
units, then they are a mere multiplicity without unity. But 
if each category logically involves every other, then they 
cannot be regarded as separate units, but they cling together 
and form a single indivisible organic system of categories, 
a genuine unity. 

ill. It is but saying the same thing when we add that, if 
the categories are to be the first reason of the world, they must 
themselves be shown to be rational. Charity begins at home. 
And reason must begin by setting its own house in prder. If 
we say that reason is the first principle of the world, and if we 
hope to deduce the world from it, we must surely begin by 



giving a rational account of reason itself. And to say that 
reason is constituted by twelve categories, by twelve unde- 
duced and unexplained facts, is to give a very irrational 
account of it. We may say, like Kant, that there is a category 
of causation, that this is a fact, and that there is no more to 
be said about it. But in such case the category is merely an 
ultimate mystery. It dogmatically asserts itself without 
giving any reason for itself. It is irrational. But we propose 
to deduce the category of cause from that of substance, that 
of substance from some prior category, and so on. Our 
categories will then be no longer irrational facts. We shall 
in that way show the logical necessity of them. We shall 
show, not merely that there is the category of cause, but that 
there must be such a category. And to show its logical 
necessity is to explain it, to show its rationality. 

112. The task which Hegel undertakes in the Logic is. 
therefore, this : tp give an account of the first reason of tfo e 
world ; to show of what categories it is composed ; to com - 
plete the list of these categories, for Hegel believed th at 
there are many more besides the twelve of Kant ; not to 
leave them isolated, standing by themselves, but logically 
to deduce one from another ; and finally to sho w that all the 
categories , regarded as a single whole, constitute a self - 
explained, self-determined, unity, such that it is capable of 
constit u ting the absolutely first principle of the world, of 
which, because it is self- explained, we do not need to seek a 
yet earlier and prior principle of explanation. The Logic is 
necessarily the first part of the system because it gives an 
account of the first principle of the world. When we have 
reached a complete account of this first reason of the 
universe, the next step will be to deduce the existence of 
the actual universe from it, to show that it is the reason of 
which the universe is the consequent. The attempt to do 
this constitutes the second and third parts of the system 
of Hegel. 

113. Plato, of course, had no idea of deducing the lower 
Ideas from the Idea of the Good. He did not perceive the 
necessity of this. But it will be of inestimable value to us to 


note that, even if Plato had wished to deduce his Ideas, he 
could not have done so ; and that for this there was a specific 
reason. For Plato's higher Ideas do not contain the lower in 
themselves, and therefore the lower cannot be extricated from 
them, logically or otherwise. On the contrary, the higher 
Ideas expressly exclude the lower. They contain only what is 
common to the lower Ideas. For example, the Idea of colour 
is what the Ideas of white, blue, green, etc., have in common. 
It expressly excludes their specific differences. The specific 
quality of green colour, i.e. its greenness, is excluded from the 
Idea of colour, which contains only what green has in common 
with blue and the other colours. It is clear that the greenness of 
green is not possessed by blue, and is therefore not a quality 
common to both colours. Hence it is not contained in the Idea 
of colour. Hence the Ideas of blue, green, etc., cannot be 
deduced from the Idea of colour. They cannot be got out of 
it K because they are not in it. 

Plato's Ideas, in fact, are abstract universals, and it is for this 
reason that no deduction of them was possible for him. An 
abstract universal is a genus which does not contain its species 
within itself. A wholly new conception of the nature of uni- 
yersals has to be evolved if deduction is to be possible, a con - 
ception according to which the universal, the genus, contai ns 
^ts differentiae and its spe cies wit hin itself, so that they can be 
extricated from it by a logical deduction . Such universals are 
cajled by Hegel c pncrete universal s, and the discovery of their 
nature was the great advance which Hegel claimed to have 
made upon previous philosophers. We are not yet in a posi- 
tion to expound this discovery. And all that we have at 
present to note is that Plato's universals were abstract, so that 
the lower Ideas could not be deduced from the higher. 

G. Which is the first Category ? 

114. If we are to deduce the categories from one another, 
two questions at once present themselves. Firstly, where are 
we to begin ? What is to be our first category ? Secondly, by 
what method are we to deduce the others. The first question 



will form the subject of the present section, the second will be 
dealt with thereafter. 

115. Which is the first category? We cannot begin with 
any category taken at random. For the deduction of the cate - 
gories is no mere piece of subjective ingenuity. It is a n 
objective process of reality itself. The categories are the 
system of reason, the objective reason which is in the world. 
Jt is of the essence of reason that its entire process is necessary. 
Nothing in it can be arbitrary or accidental. It does not begin 
and end anywhere. Its progress is fixed by its own rational 
principles and cannot be altered by our individual whims. 
Even in formal logic we cannot begin with the conclusion and 
end with the premises. The necessity of reason itself compels 
us to put the premises first. There is no room for our sub- 
j ective vagaries. Jhe essential character of reason is necessity. 
To make our beginning by chance would accordingly be to 
make an irrational beginning. The first category must be 
necessarily first. 

116. The same remarks apply, not only to what comes first, 
but also to all that comes after. The whole order in which the 
categories are deduced must be necessary. It must be deter - 
mined f not by us. but by the nature of reason itsel f. It is, in 
fact, not we who deduce the categories at all. They deduce 
themselves. We are engaged, not in creating a network o f 
categories in our imaginations, but in discovering the natu re, 
order, and connection of that system of reason which objectively 
is t whether we think it or not. Even in formal logic it is not 
we whose brains create the fact that because Socrates is a man, 
and because all men are mortal, therefore Socrates is mortal. 
This process of reason is no doing of ours. We can neither 
create nor alter it. We can only discover it. And the chain 
of categories which the Logic discloses is likewise no doing of 
ours or of Hegel's. It is the world- reason, the Absolute, whic h 
is there, in the world, from all eternity . Our deduction of the 
categories is but the discovery of how the categories deduce 

117. How, then, are we to discover the first catego ry ? It 
will be that category whic h comes first in reason,, first in orde r 


of thought, that one which is. logically, first, logically prior to 
all other s. And w e can ascertain which this is by simply con- 
sulting our own reason and seeing which of all our universa l 
and necessary concepts js presupposed by t and logically pr ior 
to r all others . For though we are engaged upon the discovery 
of an objective reality, this is not opposed to our subjective, 
reason, but only to our subjective unprincipled and arbitrary 
fancies. Discovery here differs from the ordinary process of 
physical discover y. We cannot find out which was the first 
planet to be formed merely by consulting our own minds. But 
we can discover the first category in this way. For though it 
js the objective reason that we seek, vet this objective 
reason is identical with our subjective reason. There i s 
but one reason in us and in the world. This follows from the 
principle of the identity of being and knowing . Our reason 
is no mere subjective phantasy. To think that it is so is 
to adopt the subjective position of Kant, according to 
which the categories are true for us but do not apply to 
things in themselves. If our subjective categories are not 
objective also r then things as they are in themselves must 
be unknowable, and we have already rejected this supposition 
, ^s untenable . 

118. Thus the world-reason is also our reason, and the first 
category of the Absolute will be the one which i Sf for us, 
logically prior to all others, and which is involved in all other s 
as their logical presupposition . Now with regard to concepts 
in general, the principle is that the more universal is prior t o 
the less universal, the ^enus to the species. For example, the 
concept "horse" presupposes the concept "animal." You 
cannot have the idea (concept) of horses without first having 
the idea (concept) of animals. You cannot know what a horse 
is if you do not know what an animal is. The more universal, 
the genus, " animal," is presupposed by, and logically prior to, 
the less universal, the species, 44 horse." But the. opposite is 
not true. "Animal" does not presuppose 4 4 horse. M Youmight 
fully understand what an animal is without having any idea of 
horses. This principle applies to all concepts, and therefore to 
the categories. The more abstract and general a category, the 


earlier will be its place in the Logic. The more specialized it is # 
the later will be its place. Therefore, the first categor y will be 
the most general of all, the sutnmum zenus.^ 

^ r^ffi g*nr ro1 muyessaJ differs fcg JB a less general one b v 
being more abstract . Given the species we find the genus 
by abstracting from the differentia. Man may be regarded 
as a species of the genus animal, and defined as a rational 
animal. Rationality is the differentia. Obliterate rationality 
from the concept of man and we are left with the generic 
concept of animal. By further abstraction we pass to still 
more general concepts. By abstracting from the differentia 
"life," which is inherent in the concept of animal, we should 
reach the concept 41 material object," and so on. Hence the 
first category will be the most abstract category, and wi ll 
be reached by carrying the process of /abstraction) to it s 
extreme limit . — — — — 

119. _The highest possible abstracting that which is i;nmmnn 
to every conceivable object in the universe, is the concept j )f 
b eing- Not all things are material. But all haye being. £U 
objects are. There are many objects of which it would not be 
true to say that they are green, or that they are material, or 
that they are heavy. But whatever object in the universe we 
choose, it must always be true to sa y of it that it is fteing r 
therefore, must be the first categ ory. Being, the quality of 
" isness." i s clearly the highest possibl e ahfifrrr* 1 '™ - Suppose 
we take any object in the world and proceed to abstract from 
all its attributes. This table, for example, is square, hard, 
brown, shiny. Abstract from the shininess, and we are left 
with the proposition, 44 This table is square, hard, brown." 
Abstract from the brownness and we are left with 14 This table 
is square, hard." Abstract lastly from the hardness, and then 
from the squareness, and we are left with 44 This table is." 
44 Is " is the last possible abstraction. Being is the first 

120. We can see that being is presupposed by, and logically 
prior to, all other categories. For example, quantity, quality, 
cause, substance, all presuppose being. A cause is a special 
kind of being. Nobody could have the idea of a cause unless 


he first had the idea of being. But the opposite is not true. 
One can frame the simple idea of being without knowing what 
is meant by the complicated idea of cause, just as one can have 
the idea of animal without the idea of horse. So too one 
cannot know what quantity is without the idea of being. And 
the same is true of the other categories. 

H. The Dialectic Method. 

121. The next question is, how are we to deduce the other 
categories from being ? What method are we to adopt ? Now 
just as we could not decide upon the first category by chance 
or caprice, in the same way our method of deduction must not 
be merely any random method that happens to hit our fancy. 
Here again it is not we who deduce the categories. It is not we 
who create connections between them by our ingenuity. The 
logical connections are there, and we have to discover them. 
The deduction is an object ive process of reason which takes 
j)lace in dependently oi us — not of course a process in time, 
but a logical process . Our task is, not to invent a method by 
which we can deduce categories, but to discover the method by 
whirft the categories deduce themselves. 

Now it appeared above (118) that the more general and 
abstract concept is always prior to the less general and abstract. 
And this principle not only decides for us that the first category 
is being, but also determines the order of the subsequent cate- 
gories. The more abstract concept will always be prior in 
thought, in the objective reason, to the less abstract. There- 
fore, the Logic will proceed from the summum genus, being, 
through further and further specifications, to the least abstract 
category of all, whatever that may be. Our method will be f t o 
proceed from the genus to the species, and then, treating tha 
species as a new genus, to pass from it to a fu rther and Inwer 
sjgecies ^^nd so on. But we can only proceed from genus to 
species by addin g a differentia to the gen ys Therefore the 
order of progress will be through genus T differentia^ species. 
Then treating the spgcies L<L s JL£ enu S we must find a new drSeT- 
entia to convert it into a new species. And with this triple 



rhythm of genus, differentia, species, our method wiA pro- 
ceed throughout 1 

122. But if we start with an abstraction such as being, how 
are we to ever deduce differentia and species from it ? jt is an 
essential of al l logical deduction that the consequent should be 
contained in the reason or antecedent^ The breach of this 
p r jnriplp in Vrmal Iff^r sriiai; «« called th^ f riary of illicit 
process.. There cannot be anything present in the conclusion 
which was not present in the premises. This is really the old 
principleT^ nihilo nihil fit You canno t get something out of 
nothingjjmd you cannot jjet out of a thing what is not in it. 
rFwill be found that this is just as true of the Hegelian Logic 
as of the humble formal logic. , If from one category, A, we are 
to deduce another category, B, this can only be done if A, in 
some sense or other, contains B. But if we can show that 
category A does contain category B, then this is equivalent 
to deducing B from A. That is what deduction means in 
formal logic, and that is what it means here. 

Now how can we deduce the species from the genus ? How 
can the genus be shown to contain the species ? To get from 
genus to s pecies we have to add differentia. We have, there- 
fore, to show that the genu s contains the different^. But the 
genus is expressly defined as excluding the differentia. To 
deduce the differentia from it would seem to be an illicit pro- 
cess. We have already seen this when we pointed out that 
Plato's Ideas are abstract universals. The Ideas of red, green, 
blue, cannot be deduced from the Idea of colour, because the 
latter does not contain the former. It contains only what is 
common to red, green and blue. The redness of red is not a 
property of green and blue, and therefore is not contained in 
the Idea of colour. What is specific to the lower Ideas, their 
differentiae, are expressly excluded from the higher Idea. In 
the same way the category being contains what is common to 
all things, but excludes all specific differences and determina- 
tions, and therefore it would seem impossible that any 

1 There is, however, only one species under each genus in the Hegelian 
Logic. This follows from the fact (169) that everything in the universe 
is an example of each and every category. 


differences and determinations could be deduced from being. 
For example, cause, effect, substance, quantity, are specific 
kinds of being, and the ideas of them are excluded from the 
concept of being, and cannot, therefore, it would seem, be 
deduced from it. How, then, is any deduction possible ? 

123. The solution of this problem constitutes the central 
principle of the Hegelian philosophy, the famous dialectic 
method. It rests upon the discovery that it is not true, as 
hitherto supposed, that a universal absolutely excludes the 
differentia. Hegel found that a concept may contain its own 
opposite hidden away within itself, and that this opposite may 
be extricated or deduced from it and made to do the work of 
the differentia, thus converting genus into species. The 
simplest way of explaining the dialectic method will be to give 
a concrete example of it, and thereafter to state the general 
logical principles which it involves. We take as our example 
the first triad of categories of the Hegelian Logic, — being, 
nothing, becoming. 

We begin with the category of being. It is the pure category 
that we have to think, not any particular sort of being, such as 
this pen, that book, this table, that chair. It is the entirely 
abstract idea of being, being in general, pure being. We have 
to abstract from all specific determinations whatever. We can 
form this abstract idea, if we wish, from a concrete object, say, 
this table. We have to abstract from all its qualities whatever, 
its squareness, brownness, hardness, even its very tablehood. 
We have to think its mere " isness," its being, what it has in 
common with every other object in the universe. Such being 
has in it no determinations whatever, for we have abstracted 
from all determinations. It is therefore absolutely indeter- 
minate and featureless, completely empty and vacant, a pure 
vacuum. It has no content, for content of any kind would be 
a specific determination. This vacuum, this utter emptiness 4 
is not anything ; it is the absence of everything, of all deter- 
minations, quality, character. But such absence of everything 
is simply nothing. Emptiness, vacancy, is the same as noth- 
ing. Being, therefore, is the same as nothing. And the pure 
concept of being is thus seen to contain the idea of nothing. 



But to show that one category contains another is to deduce 
that other from it. Hence we have deduced the category 
nothing from the category being. 

124. The statement that being is nothing, or that being and 
nothing are identical, must not be understood in the absurd 
sense that a particular sort of being, e.g. this table, is the 
same as nothing, or that dinner is the same as no- dinner. The 
category being is an abstraction, whereas the table and the 
dinner are concrete objects with all kinds of specific determina- 
tions besides mere being. We are speaking of the pure abstract 
idea of being after all specific determinations, such as the 
squareness, brownness, hardness, of the table, have been 
abstracted from. It is only this utterly empty thought of 
being which is the same as the thought of nothing. 

We may put the same thing in another way. To say that a 
thing " is t M but that beyond its mere " isness," it has no 
qualities or characteristics of any kind, — this is equivalent to 
saying that the thing is nothing at all. ^ The table is square, 
brown, hard, etc. Suppose that we could destroy its shape, its 
hardness, its colour, and all its qualities, it would then be 
nothing at all. To say that it " is," but that apart from the 
11 isness " it has no qualities or character, is the same as to 
say that it " is not. M Pure " is," therefore, mere " is " with- 
out any further determination, is the same as " is noj. " Being 
is identical with not-being or nothing. 

125. Since they are identical the one passes into the other. 
Being passes into nothing. And conversely^ nothing passes 
back into being ; for the thought of nothing is the thought _of 
emptiness, and this emptiness is pure being. In consequenc e 
of this disappearance of each category into the o thffr wg have a 
fcird thought involved here, namely, the idea of the passag e oi 
being and nothing into each other. This is the category o f 
becoming. Becoming was long since analyzed by Parmenides 
and shown to contain only two forms, the passage of nothing 
into being, and the passage of being into nothing. 1 The first 
form is beginning, arising, coming into being ; the second is 

1 For elaboration and proof of this point, see my Critical History of 
Greek Philosophy, p. 75. 


ending, ceasing, passing away. Thus we have already three 
categories. We began with being. From that we deduced 
nothing. And from the relations between these two we deduce 
becoming. These are the first three categories of the Hegelian 

126. We may now consider the general principles of method 
involved here. Firstly, these three categories are respectively 
genus, differentia, species. Being is the genus. Becoming is a 
special kind of being and is therefore a species of it. This 
special kind of being is being which has its negative in it, 
which is infected with not-being. Combine the idea of not- 
being with that of being, and we get the idea of becoming. 
Not-being or nothing, the second category, is therefore the 

Being, nothing, becoming, is the first Hegelian " triad.' 1 
Throughout the entire system there is this triple rhythm. 
The first category in each triad is always, as here, an affirma- 
tive category. It lays itself down as a positive assertion, e.g. 
being, is, etc. The second category is always the negative, or 
opposite, of the first. It denies what the first affirmed, e.g. 
not-being, is not, etc. This second category is not brought in 
by Hegel from any external source. It is deduced from the 
first category, and this means that the first contains the second, 
and is shown to produce it out of itself. This is what is meant 
by saying that it is not we, it is not Hegel, who deduce the 
categories ; they deduce themselves. Thus the first category 
contains its own opposite and is identical with it. At this 
point the two categories stand confronting and contradicting 
each other. But it is impossible to rest in this contradiction, 
for it means that opposite categories are applicable to the same 
thing at the same time. It means, in the case of the present 
triad. Jhat if we affirm that anything " is," we must at the 
same time admit that it " is not." Eor being nece ssarily 
involves not-being, and therefore if a thing has being, i.e. is. it 
also necessarily has not-being, i.e. is not. How can the thing 
both be and not be ? The answer is that it b oth is and is not 
when it become s. The category of becoming therefore resolves 
the contradiction. In other words the contradiction between 


the first and second categories is always reconciled in a third 
category which is the unity of the two preceding. Jhe_third 
category contains within itself the opposit ion o f the other two, 
but it also contains their underlying harmony and unity, Thus 
becoming is a being which is not-being, or a not-being which is 
being. It is a single thought which yet combines in a har- 
monious unity the contradictory ideas of being and nothing. 
The three members of a triad are sometimes called the thesis, 
antithesis, and synthesis, respectively. The synthesis being 
jeached now posits itself as a new a ssertion, _^_^^s&jmoX ive 
category which thereby becomes the thesis of a n ew triad. 
For as soon as it lays itself down as a positive assertion its 
opposite is seen to issue out of it and to involve it in self- 
contradiction. This new contradiction has again to be re- 
solved in the higher unity of a new synthesis. This in turn 
becomes the thesis of a new triad, and so on throughout the 
whole series. It will be seen that , this entire process of cate- 
gories is a compulsory process forced onwards by the compelling 
necessity of reaso n. By rational necessity the thesis gives rise 
to its opposite and so to a contradiction. Rea flP" r.q.yin.nt rest 
in what is self-contradictory, and is therefore forced onward s 
to the synthesis . And so throughout. This process cannot 
stop. It must go on until a category is reached which does not 
g ive rise to any contradiction. This will be the final categor y 
of the L ogjc. will then be possible to pass from the fir^l 
reason of the world to the world itself r the spheres of natu re 
£nd spirit. And we shall see that, in developing the details of 
nature and spirit, Hegel uses the same dialectic method of 
triads as he has used in the Logic. 

127. The dialectic method apparently performs the miracle 
of getting out of each category what is not in it. The problem 
was how to pass from genus to species in view of the fact that 
the genus expressly excludes the differentia. Now Hegel's 
discovery consists in this, that the required differentia is 
always the negative, and that, when this is understood, it is. 
seen that the old view that the genus excludes the differentia 
is not the complete truth. This latter point will be discussed 
more fully later (135-9), when we shall see that the older view 


of the genus is the view of what Hegel calls the! " understand- 
ing," as opposed to the true view which is the view of "reason." 
The understanding believes that two opposites, such as being 
and nothing, absolutely exclude each other. Reason admits 
that they exclude each other inasmuch as they are opposites. 
But this exclusion is not absolute and is not incompatible with 
the identity of the two opposites. Thus the old view of the 
genus as totally excluding the differentia is not the full truth. 
And it is this discovery which enables Hegel to perform what 
at first sight seems an impossible miracle. As regards the 
point that the requ ired differentia is th e negative, th is i s based 
upon the principle tha Lneg ation is determination . To advance 
from genus to species what is required is some specific deter - 
mi nation. The genus is indeterminate, the species dete r- 
minate. Add a determination to the genus and we get a 
species. Spinoza had laid it down that determination is 
n egation, and Heg el now uses this principle in the converse 
form that negation is determination (43). Bv adding its_ 
negative, its opposite, to the genus, we limit it ? and therefore 
determine it t and to determine it is to turn it into a species. 

128. The principle that each category contains, and in fact 
is, its own opposite, is what has sometimes been described as 
Hegel's denial of the law of contradiction. That being and 
not-being are identical seems to infringe that law. But that it 
is not true to say that Hegel denied the law of contradiction is 
evident from the fact that it is this very law which compels us 
to pass from the second to the third category of each triad. 
It is just because reason cannot rest in a contradiction that the 
contradiction between thesis and antithesis has to be resolved 
in the synthesis. Nevertheless it must- be allowed that the 
Hegelian principle of the identity of opposites is one of the 
most striking pieces of speculative audacity in the history of 
thought. But this audacity is justified and was necessary if 
philosophy was ever to solve its ancient problems. And it will 
be found on examination that this principle of Hegel's was not, 
as is usually supposed, anything absolutely new. Apart from 
explicit anticipations of it in earlier writers, it is in reality 
implied in all previous philosophy. All that is new in Hegel 



is that he was the first person explicitly to state and formulate 
it as a logical principle, previous thinkers having, while actu- 
ally relying on it, been frightened to state it in so many words. 
For whatever philosophy reduces the variety of the world to a 
unity, e.g. the doctrines of the Eleatics, the Vedantists, 
Plotinus, Spinoza, must believe in the identity of opposites. 
In every one of these philosophies we are told that reality is 
the one, and yet that the many proceeds out of the one, or in 
other words that the many is the one, that these two opposites, 
many and one, are identical. Vedantism proceeds explicitly 
upon the principle that " All is one. 1 ' " All," however, is 
clearly the many, the multiplicity of the world. And this 
principle means, therefore, that the many is identical with its 
opposite, the one. And the age-old assertion that the many 
proceeds out of the one, characteristic of all pantheistic sys- 
tems, is precisely parallel to Hegel's assertion that not-being 
proceeds out of being (which does not mean, however, that 
Hegel was a pantheist). In all these philosophies, again, the 
one is the infinite, while the many is the finite. The infinite 
produces the finite out of itself, becomes finite, and therefore is 
finite. The infinite is identical with its opposite the finite. 

Yet all these philosophies have been unable to state this 
principle openly, to realize it, and it was just for this reason 
that they all failed to solve the ancient dualism of philosophy. 
The many, they said, proceeds out of the one, is the one. Yet 
how can this be, since the many and the one are opposites, 
since the many is not the one ? The many, therefore, does not 
and cannot proceed out of the one. And beyond this see-saw 
of contradictions the old philosophies never got. Some 
thinkers emphasized multiplicity, and could find no bridge 
from it to unity. These were the pluralists and materialists. 
Other thinkers emphasized unity, and could find no bridge 
from it to multiplicity. These were the pantheists, mystics, 
and abstract idealists. The history of philosophy was a 
continual oscillation between these two tendencies. And both 
necessarily ended in dualism. Hegel's audacity and originality 
consists simply in this, that he explained and showed in 
detail how it is logically possible for two opposites to be 


identical while yet retaining their opposition. The thought 
that the many and the one are identical frightened the 
older philosophers so much that they never even examined 
it to see how it could be possible. Yet we shall find in the 
Logic that this very problem is solved. We shall find that 
Hegel explains with perfect precision and clearness how 
and in what sense the thought (category) of unity is identical 
with that of multiplicity, and how and in what sense they 
are different (208). We have already seen that he explains, 
perfectly logically and rationally, without any mystery, how 
being can be identical with its opposite, nothing. 

129. What is new in Hegel, then, is that he formulates, as 
an explicit logical principle, what was tacitly implied in 
previous systems. Hitherto it had always been assumed that, 
logically speaking, a positive and its negative simply excluded 
each other, were cut off from each other by an impassable gulf. 
It had always been assumed that we can only say A is A, and 
that we can never under any circumstances say A is not- A. 
For example, Spinoza regarded the infinite and finite as mutu- 
ally exclusive opposites. Spinoza, therefore, found it im- 
possible to solve the problem how the finite could ever issue 
out of the infinite. If we can only say A is A, the infinite is 
the infinite, then A must remain A for ever, the infinite 
must remain infinite, and therefore sterile within itself, for 
ever, and the finite world can never arise out of it. We can 
only solve this problem if the infinite contains the finite, just 
as being contains not-being, if the infinite is the finite, if A 
is not-A. 

130. It is of paramount importance to observe that the 
identity of opposites does not exclude the opposition of those 
opposites. A and not-A are identical. But they are also 
distinct. It is not only an identity of opposites ; it is also an 
identity of opposites. Tr je opposition is just as real as th e 
identity. If we forget this and imagine that the identity 
means that the opposition is illusory, then this destroys our 
principle, for what we then have is not an identity of opposites, 
but merely an identity of identicals, of which the logical 
formula would be the old A= A. Thus bein^ and nothjgg are 



identical because they are both the same complete emptines s 
and vacancy. Yet they are also distinct and opposite; for 
being is being, and nothing is nothing . But this position is 
self- contradictory. First we say that the two terms are dis- 
tinct. And then we assert that they are identical. It is this 
Contradiction which forces us to advance to the third category, 
b ecoming in which we see that the ide ntity j s_ not the whole 
t ruth, and that the difference is not the whole truth, tut that 
the whole truth is the identity in difference. For becoming > 
q pmbines both the identity and the difference . 

131. We have now described the dialectic method and some 
of the more important logical principles upon which it is based. 
This method and these principles are supposed to be accurately 
followed throughout the whole of Hegel's system. A word of 
warning is, however, necessary. It must not be supposed that 
Hegel has actually succeeded in rigorously applying these 
principles throughout his system. The description of the 
dialectic method given above is an ideal description, a descrip- 
tion of what the method aims at being or ought to be. In 
practice it is sometimes difficult to see how this description 
applies to some of Hegel's actual triads. For example, in the 
philosophy of spirit Hegel puts forward as one of his triads the 
notions of art, religion, and philosophy. Here art is supposed 
to be the thesis, religion the antithesis, philosophy the syn- 
thesis. It is very difficult to see in what sense religion is the 
opposite of art ; and it is quite impossible to see that art and 
philosophy are related as genus and species, or that religion 
can be regarded as the differentia. Numerous similar ex- 
amples might be given. 1 There are even cases of c< triads " 
which contain four terms ! These irregularities do not in- 
dicate, however, that our description of the dialectic method 
is wrong. What they do show is that Hegel has not himself 
been able to carry out his own dialectic method with absolute 
consistency in all cases. This is of course an imperfection in 
his system. Yet the fact that he has made mistakes in the 
application of his principles does not necessarily invalidate 
the principles themselves. No one would dream of supposing 
* See Croce, p. 97, 


that the biological principle of evolution is invalidated by the 
fact that science may be wrong in the pedigree it gives of some 
particular organic species. And the principles of Hegel are 
entitled to as much consideration as those of Darwin, in spite 
of occasional errors and inconsistencies. 

/. The Dialectic Method (continued). 

132. The dialectic method, stands, in contrast, on the one 
hand, to what Hegel calls ^£2^^^^ an< ^i on tne other, to 
the mathematical method of Spinoza. By raisonnemen tjriegel 
mean£ jtxqjCtfd*ftacyLmo4 ^s of argume nt adopted in books a nd 
'djscujs jons o n all subjects. Such d iscussio ns begin by stati ng 
facts^or reflectio ns arbitrarily selecte d by"the author tn 
11ir^r pose t ^aj Ian:hen building co nclusions ^hereupo n. They 
weigETpros and cons and balance probabilities. It is hopeless, 
Hegel thinks, to expect certainty, to expect knowledge, from 
such haphazjjrd-and meandering methods. . .Jn-g ^ilosophy we 
must have $ystej*i, and we must have rtecessjfy. Nothing 
must be assumed ; everything must be dedurtfcL But raison- 
netnent begins anywhere, goes on as it pleases, and stops when 
it likes. Instead of this procedure, governed as it is by chance 
and random thought, philosophical method will be governed 
by rigorous necessity. Its beginning will be fixed by necessity, 
and every step thereafter will be a necessity of reason, and no 
mere series of random reflections. For raisonnement, with its 
perpetual to and fro of arguments, its endless see-saw of pros 
and con^ may obviously go on for ever without any certain 
conclusion being reached. In place of this we must have 
metjrod, system, necessity, cert^nty. And Hegel claims that 
the dialectic method ensures these. 

133. Hegel's objections to raisonnement and his attempts to 
found a more scientific method are parallel in every way to 
the similar efforts of Descartes. When Descartes pointed out 
that, by reason of their unsystematic ways of arguing, men 
hold different opinions on nearly all important subjects, so 
that it is impossible to know which opinion is true, he was 
really raising the Hegelian objection to raisonnement. And 



just as Hegel proposed to substitute a rigorous logical method 
for this raisonnementj so Descartes and Spinoza proposed that 
philosophy should adopt the rigorous methods of geometry. 
Geometry begins with axioms, which are not mere opinions, 
but necessary truths, and proceeds by rigorous deductions to 
draw only those conclusions which follow by absolute logical 
necessity. If philosophy adopts this method, it was thought, 
it will attain the same certainty as attaches to mathematics. 
At present everyone holds whatever philosophical opinions he 
pleases. But in mathematics there is no choice of opinions. 
There can be no two opinions on the question whether the 
three angles of a triangle equal two right angles. This is 
because geometry starts from necessary truths (axioms), and 
admits nothing that does not follow of necessity from these. 
Philosophy by adopting the same procedure should be able to 
abolish opinions and attain certainty. Hence Descartes hunts 
about for an axiom to be the foundation of philosophy, as the 
geometrical axioms are of geometry, and produces as such 
axiom the proposition " I am." And Spinoza, more formally, 
begins his Ethica with a series of definitions and axioms, and 
proceeds, in imitation of Euclid, to develop philosophical 
11 theorems." 

134. Hegel agrees with Descartes and Spinoza to the extent 
that he, like them, wishes to abolish mere opinions, and to 
attain certainty by a rigorously logical method. But he 
considers the geometrical method unsuitable. 11 That these 
methods," he says, 41 however indispensable and brilliantly 
successful in their own province " — i.e. mathematics — " are 
unserviceable for philosophical cognition, is self-evident. 
They have presuppositions ; and their style of cognition is 
that of understanding, proceeding under the canon of formal 
identity. 1 ' 1 This passage states two objections to the geo- 
metrical method, first, that it has presuppositions, and second, 
that it is the method of the understanding. We will consider 
these objections in that order. 

The presuppositions or assumptions to which Hegel refers 
are the axioms, the definitions, or indeed any other propositions 
* Wal., Log,, §231, 



with which the science may begin. The point is that the mere 
fact that we make a beginning means that we make an assump- 
tion. T he first proposit ion is neces sarily an assura pt l ' r>n simp ly 
frecausg jt is the first, b ecause it is not deduced from, or prove d 

fr y, any prior proposition . Axioms may no doubt be regarded 
as " self-evident, " but that what is self-evident is also true is 
itself an assumption. And in any case, even if it be admitted 
that the axioms are true, they are yet unexplained, because 
undeduced. ,N n rfia& QTJ is given for them, and therefore they 
arft me.ret Hogi pati c facts and ultimate my steries. And we have 
already seen that philosophy cannot begin with such unex- 
plained facts. It may be an axiom, an indisputable fact, that 
" I am n — as Descartes thought. But the question still re- 
mains, " Why am If" If philosophy begins here, it begins 
with a mystery, and even if it succeeds in explaining the entire 
universe from this point, yet the whole will remain a mystery 
because it begins with one. 

It would seem that whatever beginning we make must be 
an assumption, an ultimate fact, because every beginning, as 
a first, is undeduced from anything prior to it. And in that 
case it would seem that the problem of philosophy is hope- 
less, and that it is just as useless for Hegel to begin with 
being as it was for Descartes to begin with " I am," But 
Hegel-shows, as we shall see presently, t hat the dialectica l 

135. The second objection to the geometrical method is that 
it is the work of the understanding and proceeds according to 
the canon of identity. This means that it has not reached the 
principle of the identity of opposites, but proceeds upon the 
pre-Hegelian assumption that opposites absolutely exclude 
each other, that we can only say A= A (the canon of identity), 
and never that A=not-A. It is obvious that mathematics 
proceeds upon this principle, which is suitable to it; but 
Spinoza, in supposing that it would be suitable to philosophy, 
made a mistake. It is just for this reason that Spinoza, having 
posited an infinite substance, finds it utterly impossible to 
deduce the finite from the infinite, because to 'do so would 



infringe the canon of identity, according to which not- A can 
never issue out of A, nor the finite out of the infinite. 

136. By the understanding (Verstand) Hegel means that 
stage of the development of mind at which it regards opposites. 
as mutually exclusive and absolutely cut off from each other. 
The Aristotelian laws of identity, contradiction, and excluded 
middle, are the canons of its procedure. Distinguished from 
understanding is reason (Vernunft), which is that stage of the 
development of mind which rises to the principle of the identity 
of opposites. For understanding each category remains an 
insulated self-existent being, completely cut off from the others. 
The categories thus regarded are static, fixed, and lifeless. To 
the eye of reason, however, the categories are seen to be alive 
with movement, to be fluid, to break up and flow into each 
other, as we have seen that being flows into nothing. For the 
understanding any deduction of category from category is 
impossible, for there is no passage from one to the other. 
Only reason can deduce the categories. Understanding meets 
every question with an inflexible 44 either . . . or." The 
truth is either A or not- A, either being or not-being. A thing 
either is, or is not. Reason breaks up this hard and fast 
schematism of the understanding, sees that A and not-A are 
identical in their very difference, that the truth does not lie, 
as understanding supposes, either wholly in A, or wholly in 
not-A, but rather in the synthesis of the two. 

137. Understanding is the mode of mind which seeks prei 
cision above all things, and insists upon clear distinctions. As 
such it is a necessary factor of every philosophical method. 
For without precision of thought, without clear distinctions, 
we become lost in hazy and vague ideas, in the cloudlands of 
mysticism. We must be clear as to the distinctions between 
the finite and the infinite, being and not-being, many and one. 
Thus understanding performs in philosophy a just work. But 
its truth is not the whole truth. Beneath these distinctions 
there is identity, and to see this is the work of reason. When 
Hegel inveighs against the fallacies of " mere " understanding, 
he does not mean to deny that distinctions are real, nor 
that understanding has its proper place in philosophy. But 


understanding has a tendency to imagine that its truth is the 
only truth, that distinctions and oppositions are real and 
that identity in opposition is unreal. And this is the error 
for which Hegel blames the understanding. 

138. It is not to be supposed that understanding emphasises 
only distinction, difference, while reason emphasises only 
identity. In that case reason would be just as one-sided as 
understanding. The truth rather is that understanding insists 
upon both identity and difference, but takes each separately. 
Reason also insists upon both, but takes them together. For 
understanding A and B are either identical or different. For 
reason they are both identical and different. The principle of 
reason is identity in difference. Understanding has a two-fold 
canon: (1) the identical is the identical, A=A; this is the 
law of identity : and (2) the different is the different, A is not 
not-A ; this is the law of contradiction. The canon of reason 
is rather that what is different is also identical, that A is not-A. 
Understanding will insist that, either two categories are the 
same, in which case there is no difference between them, or 
they are different, in which case they are not identical. Reason, 
asserts that they are at the same time both identical and dis- 
tinct. Being is different from nothing ; for it is its opposite. 
But being is also identical with nothing, for both are the same 
vacancy. Thus it is quite wrong to think of reason as being 
opposed to understanding, or to imagine that understanding 
is one point of view and reason merely another, so that one 
must be wrong and the other right. Reason includes and 
transcends understanding, for it fully admits the differences 
and the identities on which understanding insists, but it sees 
further that difference and identity are not, as understanding 
supposes, incompatible with each other. 

139. Western thinkers have as a rule exhibited a tendency 
to emphasize distinctions and ignore identities. Hence their 
thought has been clear and precise. Indian thinkers, such as 
the founders of the Vedanta, on the other hand, have exhibited 
a tendency to emphasize identity and ignore even essential 
distinctions. Hence their thought is hazy, vague, and mys- 
tical. Both these tendencies are one-sided, half-true, and 



both are the work of the mere understanding. The West is apt 
to believe that only difference is real, and that identity is 
illusory. Its formula is, A is not not- A. The East is apt to 
believe that only identity is real, and that differences are 
illusory — which is in fact explicitly stated in the doctrine that 
only the one is and that the world of difference and multiplicity 
is Maya, illusion. Its formula is A is A. Both formulas are 
the work of understanding. The Hegelian principle combines 
both these half-truths in the whole truth that difference and 
identity are both equally real, and that what is different is also 
identical, A=not-A. This is the principle of reason, the 
principle of the identity of opposites. And it will be seen 
that it does not oppose, but includes, the principles of the 
understanding. It only opposes the one-sidedness of under- 

140. Reason, as we have seen, is the Absolute, is objective, 
and is independent of us. But the beginner may be puzzled 
by the fact that the same word " reason " is also used by 
Hegel to describe the subjective mental processes which we 
have just distinguished from understanding. Is not the fact 
that one word is used for two such totally different things an 
example of looseness of thought? But it is the " under- 
standing " of the reader which is raising this difficulty and 
insisting that the two things here described by one word are 
" totally different," thus ignoring their identity ! Reason, 
the subjective mental process, is certainly distinct from reaso n, 
the ob jective Absolute. The first is reason as subject, seen 
feom the side of knowing. The second is reason as object ^ 
seen jrom the side of being. But being and knowing are 
identical in their difference. Subjective reason is identical , 
with the objective world-reason. Our reason is the absolute 
reason. There is no confusion either of terms or of though t. 

141. Certain other Hegelian terms may here be explained. 
11 Logical doctrine," says Hegel, " has three sides, (a) the 
Abstract side, or that of understanding : (j8) the Dialectical, or 
that of negative reason : (7) the Speculative, or that of positive 
reason." 1 In this way the three terms of each triad are 

* Wal.. Log.. § 79. 


described. The first term is th e work of understanding. For 
i fr simply asserts itself as the sole category in existence . Thus 
being lays itself down, asserts that being is being, and that 
is all. This involves nothing but the canon of identity. A=^\. 
the principle of the understanding. The second term is that 
of negative reason. For example, nothing is negative ; and 
it involves reason b ecause to reach it we have had to produce 

nut of its opposite, being t and to see its identity with being. 
The last term, becoming, is that of positive reason. It is 
positive because it is not a mere negation, like the second 
term, but is a return to a positive affirmation which is capable 
of becoming the thesis of a new triad. The term " dialectical/ ' 
ordinarily used to express the entire deductive process of the 
Logic, is, in this passage and elsewhere, used to signify speci- 
ally the passage of a thing into its opposite, the breaking down 
of the absolute distinctions set up by the understanding. The 
word 14 speculative/ 1 when used by Hegal, does not imply 
hazardous, but on the contrary imports certainty. That is 
14 speculative/' according to Hegel, in which the principle of 
reason, the reconciliation of opposites, is involved. Hence the 
word is, in the above passage, applied to the third term in the 
triad. And 44 speculative " philosophy is a term used by 
Hegel to describe his own system, because the identity of 
opposites is its leading principle. He also occasionally speaks 
of previous philosophies, e.g. those of Plato and Aristotle, as 
" speculative/ 1 by which he means that the principle of reason, 
the identity of opposites, is implicit in their teachings although 
they did not explicitly recognize it. To call a philosophy 
44 speculative " imports, for Hegel, a high measure of praise. 

142. The terms " abstract " and "concrete" are perhaps the 
commonest of all terms in the Hegelian technical vocabulary. 
Whether he has always consistently used them in the same 
sense may well be doubted. But according to his most 
characteristic usage the first two terms of each triad are 
relatively abstract, while the third is relatively concrete. 
Thus the first category of the Logic, being, is the most abstract 
of all, since it abstracts from all determinations. It contains 
no differences. But becoming encloses within itself the dis- 



tinction of being and nothing. Being and nothing, taken 
apart from each other, are both abstractions. Each is a false 
abstraction, a one-sided half-truth, which cannot stand alone. 
Only when they are taken together do we get the concrete 
truth of becoming. This usage of the terms is based upon 
the common usage. We say that each quality of a thing, say 
this table, if taken by itself, is an abstraction. There is no 
such thing as brownness by itself. Brownness, considered 
apart from the brown thing, is an abstraction. It is only 
when the brownness, the squareness, the hardness, etc., are 
all taken together, that we get the concrete thing, the table. 
In the same way being and nothing, taken separately are 
abstractions, but together they constitute the relatively con- 
crete category of becoming. But though becoming is concrete 
as compared with being and nothing, it is itself abstract as 
compared with later categories. For becoming will, in a new 
form, become the thesis of a new triad, and will be opposed 
by an antithesis. This thesis and antithesis will, taken apart, 
each be one-sided abstractions as against their concrete unity, 
the synthesis. Thus, as the Logic advances, the categories 
become more and more concrete, and the final category is 
the most concrete of all. 

143. The thesis is always regarded by Hegel as " immediate/' 
or as characterized by " immediacy.' ' The second term is 
" mediate," or characterized by mediation. The third term 
is the merging of mediation in a new immediacy. The im- 
mediate is the simple and undifferentiated ; it stands directly 
and immediately confronting us, and purports to be in itself 
the sole truth without reference to anything else. Being, as 
it first comes before us, is of this character. It is simple and 
undifferentiated, for it has not yet split up into being and 
nothing. It asserts itself as the complete truth, and does not 
refer to nothing or to any other category. When we pass to 
nothing, however, we have mediation. At that stage being 
and nothing refer to each other, stand in a relation to each 
other. They mediate each other. Immediacy is the same 
as simple identity, that within which no differences have yet 
disclosed themselves. Being is simple and self-identical, and 


has as yet no distinctions within itself. Mediation is the same 
as difference, division, distinction. With the second member 
of the triad, nothing, being has sundered itself, has developed 
within itself the distinction between being and nothing ; and 
this differentiation is mediation. With the third term, be- 
coming, the differences are again absorbed in an identity ; the 
mediation and difference are merged in a new unity. We have 
again a new immediacy, a fresh self-identical category. When 
this in turn gives birth to its opposite we have a fresh field of 
mediation, which is again merged in a further synthesis ; and 
so on. The final category of the Logic will be immediate in 
the sense that all previous mediation, all distinctions and 
differences of all lower categories, are absorbed and merged in 
its unity. Yet inasmuch as it still retains and preserves all 
distinctions within this its unity it is, in that way, the highest 

144. The synthesis of a triad both abolishes and preserves 
the differences of the thesis and antithesis. This two-fold 
activity of the synthesis is expressed by Hegel by the word 
aufheben, which is sometimes translated 41 to sublate." The 
German word has two meanings. It means both to abolish 
and to preserve. The English phrase " to put aside M has a 
similar double meaning. To put a thing aside may mean to 
put it out of the way, to have done with it, abolish it. Or it 
may mean to put it aside for future use, to keep and preserve 
it. The differences between the first and the second members 
pf each triad are " sublated " by the third. Firstly, the 
difference is abolished. The mediation and distinction are 
merged in a unity. Being and nothing and the opposition 
between them are merged in the unity of becoming. But at 
the same time the difference is preserved within the new cate- 
gory. It is not simply wiped out. The new category is an 
identity of differences, not a simple identity. The fact that 
it is an identity of differences means that the differences are 
merged. The fact that it is an identity of differences means 
that they are preserved. We have not a mere identity, i.e. 
simple abolition of differences. Nor have we a mere opposi- 
tion, i.e. simple preservation of differences. What we have 



is an identity of opposites. Simple abolition would mean 
that we have an identity, but no opposites. Simple preserva- 
tion would mean that we' have opposites, but no identity. 
Becoming is the unity of being and nothing and in it their 
difference is absorbed. Yet being and nothing are still there, 
present in becoming, and may be got out of it by analysis. 
They have ceased to exist as separate entities^ as opposite 
abstractions. In this sense they are abolished. But they 
now exist in combination, as factors of a concrete unity. 
They exist in absorption, in solution. Thus being and nothing 
are preserved in becoming, and not lost. And when the syn- 
thesis becomes the thesis of a new triad it will in its turn 
be merged but yet preserved, along with its opposite, in a 
further synthesis. Thus the synthesis of the second triad has, 
preserved within it, the antithesis and thesis of that triad. 
And since the thesis of this second triad has, as synthesis of 
the first triad, preserved within it the thesis and antithesis of 
the first triad, this means that the synthesis of the second triad 
preserves everything that went before it including the thesis 
and antithesis of the first triad. In this way, as the dialectic 
proceeds, nothing is ever lost. Each step in the process takes 
up into itself what went before it and is in turn taken up by 
the step that follows. The final category of the Logic retains 
and preserves within itself all previous categories whatever. 
They are all merged in it, gathered up into its unity, their 
differences and contradictions resolved. They are all fused 
into one. Yet they retain their existence in this unity, as the 
factors of its being. It is for this reason alone that it is con- 
crete. Were all previous categories not contained within it, 
it would be merely an abstraction, just as Plato's Ideas are, 
for the same reason, abstract universals. The Idea of colour 
excludes, wipes out, the specific Ideas of white, green, red, and 
the differences between them. It is a simple unity, not a 
unity of differences. It does not contain the lower Ideas and 
is therefore abstract. The higher categories of Hegel contain 
the lower, and are therefore concrete. 

145. The higher categories contain the lower. But it is 
also true, in another sense, that the lower categories contain 


the higher. Becoming contains being. But being also con- 
tains becoming. This is evident from the fact that becoming 
is deduced from being, and we have seen that it is only possible 
to deduce from a category what that category contains. We 
may formulate the truth here by saying that higher categories 
contain lower categories explicitly, but that lower categories 
contain the higher categories implicitly. The first term in a 
triad is called by Hegel 44 in itself " (an sich), that is to say, 
implicit. The third term is 44 in and for itself " (fur sick) 
that is to say, explicit. The first term is implicitly or potenti- 
ally the same as the third, just as the acorn is implicitly the 
oak. For the third term grows out of the first in the course 
of the dialectic. Being implicitly contains becoming. For in 
passing from the one to the other nothing has been added 
from the outside. The new material has been put forth from 
the womb of being itself. Being first gave birth to nothing. 
The category nothing was therefore within it. Becoming 
arises from being and nothing, both of which were within 
being. Becoming, therefore, was within being. Being, there- 
fore, is implicitly or potentially becoming. It contains becom- 
ing implicitly within it, and it is only for this reason that 
becoming can be deduced from it. Becoming on the other 
hand contains being and nothing explicitly. Becoming is 
hidden in being, implicit. But being is obviously, openly, 
explicitly, contained in becoming. It is patent that becoming 
is a kind of being. 

What is true of the first triad is true of the entire series. 
Just as being is implicitly becoming, so becoming is implicitly 
the next synthesis, and so on. And since of all these syntheses 
each issues out of the last, and since there is never at any 
point any new material brought in from outside, it follows 
that being is not only implicitly becoming, but is also implicitly 
all the subsequent categories. There are several dozen cate- 
gories in the Logic. All these are implicitly contained in being. 
If they were not, then the deduction of them would be im- 
possible. If there were, in any of these categories, any thought- 
content which was not contained in the first category, being, 
then, in passing to those categories from being, we should have 



somewhere in the chain of deductions an illicit process, an 
introduction into the consequent of something not contained 
in the antecedent. Being is implicitly all the categories which 
follow it. The final category is explicitly or actually all the 
categories which precede it. In the forefront of the smaller 
Logic Hegel placetfTheNwords, " Being is the Notion implicit 
only." 1 The Motion is the name of the final sphere of 

T^TSmce being is implicitly becoming, it follows that in 
thinking of it simply as being we have not as yet seen the full 
truth about it, for we have not seen all that it contains. The 
truth of being is becoming, and, in general, it is a characteristic 
phrase of Hegel's that the synthesis is " the truth of " the 
thesis and antithesis. Even becoming, of course, does not 
give us the full truth. For not only becoming, but all the 
categories, including the final category, are implicitly wrapped 
up in being. Only the final category gives us the complete 
truth. But becoming is a step towards the truth ; it is the 
proximate truth of being. Another characteristic phrase of 
Hegel's is the word " moment The first and second terms of 
a triad are the "mom$n*s " of the third, i.e. the factors which 
go to compose it. 

147. We are now in a position to solve completely the pro- 
blem of how a beginning is possible. We have seen that to 
begin with being means that being is itself undeduced. Just 
because it is the first, it seems, for that reason, to be a mere 
unexplained fact, an ultimate mystery. And it would seem 
that any other beginning must, as a beginning, suffer the same 
disability. Descartes began with the axiom, " I am." It 
may be a fact that I am, a fact which it is impossible to doubt. 
But it still remains an unexplained, because undeduced, fact, 
and to explain the universe from it is therefore merely to 
reduce the universe to an ultimate mystery, i.e. to explain 
nothing. Doctor McTaggart thinks that Hegel's beginning 
with being is justified by the fact that it is impossible to doubt 
that something " is," since the existence of the doubt at least 
implies that the doubt itself " is." 2 But it will be seen that 

* Wal., Log., $ 84. 

*DiaL, §§ 17-18, 



this account of the matter is open to the same objections as 
Descartes* own axiom. It may be indisputable that there is 
being. But this is a mere blind irrational undeduced fact. 
And philosophy cannot begin with such a fact. This then is 
not the solution. We must look elsewhere for it. Hegel has 
himself stated it in many passages. 

148. Now becoming is implicitly present in being. The 
deduction proves that being implies becoming. Therefore you 
cannot have being without becoming. Becoming is, therefore, 
a condition on which being depends. The condition is neces- 
sarily prior to that of which it is the condition. Hence 
becoming is prior to being. Being in reality presupposes 
becoming, and becoming is the foundation of it. For if there 
were no becoming there could be no being. And although 
becoming is the end, the later term in the deduction, it is also 
in truth the beginning, the foundation, the logical first. The 
subsequent course of the deduction proves that being neces- 
sarily involves, not only becoming, but all the categories 
including the final category, which Hegel calls the Absolute 
Idea. Being presupposes becoming, which presupposes the 
next synthesis, and so on throughout till we reach the final 
presupposition of all the categories, the Absolute Idea. Be- 
coming is the foundation of being, is logically prior to being. 
The next synthesis is logically prior to becoming, is the founda- 
tion of becoming. Hence the last category, the Absolute 
Idea, is the absolute first, the absolute foundation and pre- 
supposition of being and of all the other categories. 

149. This conception, that the last is also the first, that the 
end is the true beginning, is found already in a highly developed 
form in the philosophy of Aristotle. The first and lowest term 
in Aristotle's scale of being is formless matter. Because this 
is wholly indeterminate, completely vacant of all character 
or quality, it corresponds in all respects to Hegel's pure being. 
And since it is thus empty of any determination Aristotle de- 
clares that it is nothing, an absolute not-being. This is pre- 
cisely the same as Hegel's declaration that being and nothing 
are identical, and it is because this supposed unheard of novelty 
of Hegel's is in reality Aristotelian that Hegel regards the 



philosophy of Aristotle as genuinely " speculative." Formless 
matter, then, is the first term in Aristotle's scale of being. 
The end, the last term is absolute form, matterless form. 
Form, for Aristotle, is the same as definition, specification, 
determination. Absolute form is the completely determinate. 
And this completely determinate, which is the end of the 
Aristotelian scale of being, is no other than the absolute 
concreteness which Hegel also posits as the end, the final 
category. The scale of being, according to Aristotle, begins 
with the completely abstract, i.e. formless matter, and passes 
through further and further specifications and determinations, 
to the completely concrete and determinate, matterless form. 
This corresponds in all respects to the Hegelian movement 
from abstract being to the concrete Absolute Idea. And for 
Aristotle absolute form is the first, is logically prior to formless 
matter. The end is prior to the beginning. This, too, is 
Hegel's conception. 

150. How, now, does this solve the problem of an undeduced 
beginning ? It solves it because we now see that the category 
of being is not a mere beginning, planked down, without 
foundation, without deduction, resting on nothing, hanging in 
the air. Its foundation is the Absolute Idea. It may be 
objected that it is not clear what is here meant by the word 
foundation. The difficulty, it will be said, is that being is 
undeduced. And the only way in which the problem could 
be solved along these lines would be to show that the Absolute 
Idea is the foundation in the sense that being is logically 
deduced from it. But this is precisely what we do mean by 
foundation here. Being can be and is deduced from the 
Absolute Idea, and is for that reason not an undeduced begin- 
ning. For deduction means showing that what is deduced is 
contained in that from which it is deduced. And that being is 
contained in the final category is obvious, since it has already 
been shown that the final category contains all previous cate- 
gories. Being (implicitly) contains the final category; the final 
category can therefore be deduced from it — through a chain 
of intermediate categories. The final category (explicitly) 
contains being ; and therefore being can be deduced from it. 


We have seen how the species, becoming, is deduced from the 
genus, being. It is surely obvious that being can be deduced 
from becoming ; for becoming is a species of being and ex- 
plicitly contains and involves the idea of being. The idea of 
the genus being is got out of the idea of the species becoming 
by mere analysis. The idea of the species obviously contains 
the idea of the genus. There is no difficulty in extricating, i.e. 
deducing, the idea of 11 animal" from the idea of "horse." 
Being can thus easily be deduced from becoming, becoming 
from the next synthesis, and all the categories finally from the 
Absolute Idea. Being might be deduced from any of the 
later categories. It is obvious, for example, that it can be 
deduced from substance. For a substance is a kind of being, 
and we get the idea of being out of the idea of substance by 
mere analysis. 

151. It would seem then that the deduction of the categories 
might theoretically begin at either end. Hegel begins with 
being and ends with the Absolute Idea. Why not begin with 
the Absolute Idea and end with being ? Is Hegel's choice of 
order merely arbitrary ? Is it justified ? It is important that 
we should understand the answer to these questions. In the 
first place it will be seen that, in order to avoid the enigma 
of an undeduced beginning, both procedures are necessary. If 
we began with being but could not reverse the process, then 
being would be an undeduced beginning. If we began with 
the Absolute Idea, and advanced to being, but could not 
reverse the process, then the Absolute Idea would be an un- 
deduced beginning. Hegel's solution consists in showing that 
being is not an undeduced beginning because its foundation 
is the Absolute Idea ; and the Absolute Idea is not an un- 
deduced beginning because its foundation is being. Both 
orders of deduction are, therefore, necessary. 

Why, then, does Hegel, in the Logic, begin with being and 
proceed in that order only, saying nothing of the reverse 
process ? The answer to this is quite simple. All deduction 
that is worth while proceeds from the implicit to the explicit. 
In a syllogism the conclusion is implicit in the premises. The 
object of the deduction is to make explicit what is implicit. 


The explicit is the same as the patent, open, and obvious. It 
is only because the conclusion is not explicit, i.e. not obvious, 
that a deduction is required to make it so. In the same way 
becoming and all subsequent categories up to the Absolute 
Idea are implicit in being. But they are not explicit. And 
therefore, in order to make them explicit, we begin with being 
and produce them out of it. The reverse procedure is un- 
necessary because it is obvious, explicit, that the later cate- 
gories contain the earlier. It is not clear how being involves 
substance or cause. And therefore a deduction from being 
to substance, cause, etc., is required. But it is obvious that 
cause involves being, and therefore it would be waste of time 
for Hegel to proceed with the deduction in that order. 

152. The conclusions at which we have arrived may now be 
compared with what was said earlier (79 to 82) about the nature 
of reason regarded as the Absolute. If the absolute first, from 
which the world flows, is reason, is not this reason itself, we 
asked, an unexplained fact ? And we answered that reason is 
a self-explanatory principle, that it is self-determined, that 
reason is its own reason. We can now see more fully how true 
this is. Reason is the system of the categories. It is a self- 
enclosed, self-determined, sphere. If the final category has 
for its reason being, yet on the other hand being has for its 
reason the final category. The whole system of categories 
returns into itself, is deduced from itself. And this is equiva- 
lent to saying that reason is its own reason, that it is self- 
determined. And hence, because no prior reason can be asked 
for it, no reason external to itself, it is therefore suited to be 
the absolute first, the principle of explanation of the whole 

153. Before leaving this topic, it is worth noting some of 
its implications regarding the nature of logical deduction. 
Hegelian deduction proceeds upon the twofold basis that (1) 
the conclusion, the end, the Absolute Idea presupposes the 
premise, the beginning, being ; and yet, on the other hand, 
that (2) the beginning, being, presupposes the conclusion. 
This may appear strange. Yet the same thing is implied in 
formal Logic, The conclusion of a syllogism presupposes the 


premises. Yet the premises also presuppose the conclusion, 
and this fact is usually expressed by saying that the syllogism 
is a petitio princ ipii. In the syllogism 

All men are mortal. 
Socrates is a man. 
Therefore, Socrates is mortal, 

^h e^major premise is only true if the conclusion is true ; i.e. 
tjiejruth of the premise pres upposes thel truth ot iheTonctu- 
^ion. . If attack is made upon the syllogism on the ground that 
its premises assume its conclusion, the reply is that they 
assume the conclusion only in the sense that they have the 
conclusion implicit in them. Deduction consists in making 
explicit what is implicit. 

Mill assumed, on the contrary, that genuine inference must 
pass from the known to the unknown, i.e. that the conclusion 
must not be implicit in the premises but must be something 
absolutely new. His attempt to show how this is possible was 
a complete failure. By induction, he thought, we pass from 
the facts that A, B, C, etc., are mortal to the completely new 
fact that D is mortal. To do this, however, we must assume 
the truth of the principles of causation and the uniformity of 
nature. Induction then appears as a syllogism in which one of 
those principles is the major premise. And in accordance with 
the general rule that the syllogism is a petitio principii, the 
major premise assumes the truth of the conclusion that D is 
mortal. From which we see that the Hegelian view is correct ; 
i.e. inference merely passes from the implicit to the explicit. 

The contrary view, that the conclusion can be something 
absolutely new, is a breach of the principle ex nihilo nihil jit. 
Parmenides thought that becoming involves the arising of 
something out of nothing, and asked how, in these circum- 
stances, becoming can be possible. Aristotle answered the 
question by formulating the view that becoming does not in- 
volve the passage from absolute nothing to absolute being, but 
from potential being to actual being. The terms potential and 
actual are identical with the terms implicit and explicit 
respectively. And just as change, the time-process, meant 



for Aristotle the passage of potentiality into actuality, so for 
Hegel the logical process is the passage of implicitness into 
explicitness. The problem set by Parmenides as regards the 
nature of change, and the problem how deduction can pass to 
absolutely new facts, are one and the same problem. And 
one and the same answer solves both. 

J. Divisions of the System. 

154. The system of Hegel is divided into three parts : 

(1) Logic. 

(2) The Philosophy of Nature. 

(3) The Philosophy of Spirit. 

These three, viz. the Logical Idea, nature and spirit constitute 
a triad. Logic treats of the Idea as it is in itself. This is 
the thesis. Nature is the Idea in its otherness. It is the 
opposite of the Idea in itself. This is the antithesis. Spirit 
is the unity of the Idea and nature. This is the synthesis. 

155. For the sake of simplicity we have hitherto spoken as 
if the triads followed each other in a simple linear series. 
This, however, is not the case. Not only does one triad follow 
another in simple series, but whole series of triads fall within 
larger triads, and these again within larger. Hegel regards a 
number of triads as constituting a single sphere of categories 
or notions. This whole sphere, which may contain many 
theses, antitheses, and syntheses, is itself regarded as a single 
thesis. Its antithesis and synthesis will themselves be spheres 
of categories or notions which contain smaller triads within 
them. The entire system constitutes a single triad, Idea, 
nature, spirit. The Logic, which deals with the Idea, is again 
subdivided into three, viz. being, essence, the Notion. Each 
of the three terms of this inner triad is again subdivided into 
smaller triads. Nature and spirit are likewise divided and 
subdivided. The method followed in this process will be 
clearer when we come, in the following parts of the book, to 
the details of the system. 1 

156. The first part of the system, the Logic, deals with 
pure reason, the system of the categories, — what we have 

1 See also diagram of Hegel's system at the end of the book. 


called the first reason of the world. The second and third 
parts, nature and spirit, deal with the actual world itself. 
Nature includes space and time, inorganic matter, plants and 
animals. Spirit means the spirit of man, which is also part 
of the actual existent world. 

157. The system of the categories is the Idea as it is in 
itself. Nature is the Idea in its otherness. Spirit is the 
Idea returned from this otherness into itself. To explain what 
this means we must comment upon the word Idea. The Idea 
seems at first sight to have two meanings. It is (1) a collective 
name for the entire system of categories. The Logic has for 
its subject, we are told, the pure Idea, the Idea as it is in 
itself. Used in this way the Idea is just the sum of the cate- 
gories. But the term is also used (2) as the name of the final 
category in the Logic, or at least as the name of the final 
sphere of categories. The actually final category itself is 
called the Absolute Idea, but the sphere of categories to which 
this belongs is called simply the Idea. Now although we may 
legitimately distinguish these two senses in which the word 
Idea is used, the main point for us to grasp is that these two 
senses, which appear different, are in reality identical. The 
final category is identical with the sum of all the previous 
categories, for, in accordance with the dialectical method and 
its principles, the final category explicitly contains all the 
earlier categories. It is itself the sum of all the categories. 
It is their unity. It is, therefore, a matter of indifference 
whether by the word Idea we understand the final sphere of 
categories or the entire series from being onwards. 

158. Nature as the antithesis of the Logical Idea is the 
opposite of the Idea. It is not the Idea. Yet we have already 
described nature as the Idea in otherness. Both statements 
are true. The relation of the Idea to nature is that of thesis 
and antithesis. Thus it is the same as the relation of being 
to nothing, the first thesis and antithesis of the system. Noth- 
ing is, in the first-place, different from being. It is not being. 
It is the opposite of being. In the same way nature is the 
opposite of the Idea. It is not the Idea. But, on the other 
hand, being is identical with nothing. Nothing is being. 



In the same way nature is identical with its opposite, the Idea. 
It is the Idea. We have, as usual, identity in opposition. 
And this relation is usually expressed by saying that nature 
is the Idea in the element of otherness. That it is the Idea — 
this expresses the identity. That it is in otherness — this ex- 
presses the opposition. Such phrases, frequent in Hegel, as 
that nature is the Idea gone out of itself, that it is the Idea in 
estrangement from itself, express the same thought. 

159. Spirit, finally, is the Idea which has returned, from 
this otherness and self-estrangement, into itself. This lan- 
guage may be used of the synthesis of every triad. Being goes 
out of itself into its opposite, nothing. Being is affirmative, 
nothing the negative of it. Becoming is again an affirmative. 
It is again being, but being which has now absorbed its opposite 
into itself. For it is now a being which has nothing in it, 
the unity of being and nothing. And since becoming is again 
being, it is the return of being out of otherness into itself. 
The Idea, likewise, goes out of itself into nature. Spirit is 
the unity of nature and the Idea, and is therefore the Idea 
returned into itself. For the Idea is reason. And spirit, i.e. 
the human spirit, is rational. It is the existent reason. As 
reason it is the Idea. As existent, it is part of nature. 

160. Spirit is divided into (1) subjective spirit, (2) objective 
spirit, (3) absolute spirit. What is meant by these terms witt 
^pp^ar in the proper place. Objective spirit contains inter 
nKg^Hegd's eth ics and his political philosophy . Absolute 
"Spirit includes the philosophy of art and the philosophy of 
religion. Meanwhile it will be seen that spirit, as the final 
term of the triad Idea, nature, spirit, is the absolute end, and 
therefore the true beginning, the foundation of all. Just as 
being has for its proximate foundation becoming, and for its 
ultimate logical foundation the final category, the Absolute 
Idea, so the Idea in itself, or, as we shall often call it, the 
Logical Idea, has spirit for its foundation. And the founda- 
tion of spirit as a whole is its third member, absolute spirit. 
And this means that absolute spirit, as the absolute end of 
the whole system of triads, is the foundation of the whole, i.e. 
not only of subjective and objective spirit, but also of nature 


and the Logical Idea. It is thus the ultimate foundation of 
the world. It is the Absolute. The Absolute is thus spirit. 
This, which is a frequent expression of Hegel's, may appear 
to contradict the previous assertions that the Absolute is the 
Idea, the system of categories. And the student may be 
inclined to be puzzled as to what Hegel means. Does he 
mean that the Absolute is the system of categories, or does he 
mean that the Absolute is the final phase of the human spirit, 
viz. absolute spirit ? The answer is that the two statements 
are identical. We have not yet explained what is meant by 
the category of the Absolute Idea. The accurate specification 
of this is not possible till we have been through the contents of 
the Logic. But meanwhile we may say in anticipation that 
the Absolute Idea is no other than the category of spirit. 
Just as the category of cause is the abstract thought or con- 
cept which applies to those actually existent objects which 
are causes ; so the category of the Absolute Idea is the con- 
cept which applies to the highest phase of the human spirit. 
It is the thought of spirit. Hence the distinction between the 
Absolute Idea and absolute spirit is the same as that between 
the category of substance and substance itself, or as that 
between the category of cause and an actual cause. Now we 
have seen that although the distinction between the category 
of substance and substance itself is real, yet there is identity 
in this distinction. The category of substance is identical 
with substance itself (ioi). It is exactly the same here. The 
category of the Absolute Idea is identical with absolute spirit, 
and therefore it is indifferent whether we say that the Absolute 
is the one or the other ; just as we saw that it would be in- 
different whether we said that the Absolute is the category of 
substance or substance itself. 

161. But although this is so, and although it is true that 
by spirit Hegel certainly means the human spirit, we must 
not jump to the preposterous conclusion that, according to 
Hegel's philosophy, I, this particular human spirit, am the 
Absolute, nor that the Absolute is any particular spirit, nor 
that it is humanity in general. Such conclusions would be 
little short of shocking. Absolute spirit is perfect spirit. 


Absolute spirit is certainly in me, this individual me, as my 
very core and substance, because it is the pattern on which 
I am made. But I, as this individual with all my irrational 
caprices, particularities, and selfishness, am but a distortion 
of absolute spirit. To use metaphorical, i.e. religious lan- 
guage, one may say that absolute spirit is nothing less than 
the spirit of God — the completely rational, all-knowing, all- 
wise, perfect spirit. And the assertion that absolute spirit 
is the final phase of the human spirit means no more than that 
the human spirit is of essentially the same kind as the spirit of 
God, and that every man is potentially divine. Lastly this 
metaphorical language concerning God must not be misunder- 
stood. Hegel most certainly did not believe in a personal God 
in the ordinary crude popular sense in which God is conceived 
as a particular person among other persons. The Absolute is 
personality — another name for the category of the Absolute 
Idea — or spirit, but not a particular person or a particular 
spirit, — which would mean a finite spirit. But these matters 
can hardly be fully comprehended till we have worked through 
the system in detail. And we now proceed to the details of 
the system. 



162. Reason, the subject of the Logic, is on the one hand 
the system of objective categories, and on the other hand it 
is the system of those subjective categories or concepts by 
means of which we do our thinking. Objective and subjective 
reason are identical (140), and the Logic is therefore the science 
of both. As the science of the objective reason, the Absolute, 
the supreme reality, it is an ontology or metaphysic. As the 
science of subjective reason, of the categories with which we 
think, it is an epistemology. Kant's list of categories is only 
an epistemology because he regarded the categories as purely 
subjective. Hegel saw that the categories are objective as 
well, so that his account of them is also a metaphysic, or 
ontology. And lastly, since it is the science of human, i.e. 
subjective, reason, it is also, in the usual sense of the term, 
a logic. 

163. The Logic falls into three great spheres of categories, 
viz. the categories (1) of being, (2) of essence, (3) of the 
Notion. These three spheres constitute a triad. The term 
being is thus the name of (1) a particular category, i.e. being 
as opposed to nothing, and of (2) a sphere of categories of 
which this particular category is only one. In this wider 
sense the sphere of being includes the numerous categories 
and sub-categories of quality, quantity and measure. 

The first sphere, being, is characterized by immediacy. The 
categories here included, for example being, nothing, quality, 
quantity, etc., are simple immediate categories in the sense 
that each sets up to be a self-subsistent concept which stands 
by itself and does not explicitly refer the mind to, or stand in 
relation to, any other category. Such concepts as positive 



and negative are obviously correlatives which refer to each 
other. But being does not expressly refer to nothing. Posi- 
tive and negative imply each other. Being, apparently, does 
not imply nothing. It stands by itself, on its own basis. The 
same is true of quality and quantity. They do not seem to 
have anything to do with each other. Each of them is what 
it is quite apart from the other. They do not mediate one 
another, as positive and negative do. Hence they are called 
immediate. It is true that, when the categories of the general 
sphere of being are critically examined, it turns out that they 
are in fact vitally related to each other. Thus we have already 
seen how being implies and necessarily involves nothing. And 
in the same way we shall find that quality and quantity really 
involve each other. This is the very meaning of the deduction 
of the categories from one another. The deduction breaks 
down the supposed self-sufficiency of each category and shows 
that, though it purports to stand alone, it is in reality impossible 
without the other. But it is this purporting to stand alone 
which constitutes the immediacy of the categories of this 
sphere. The reference of the categories to each other, their 
logical implication of each other, is not explicit, as it is in the 
case of positive and negative. It is implicit, hidden below the 
surface, and the very purpose of the deduction is to bring it to 
light, to make this implicitness explicit. Being, nothing, be- 
coming, quality, quantity, etc., are all apparently disconnected. 
This apparent disconnection is their immediacy. Only by 
means of the deduction is the inner connection between them 
forced into view. 

164. If being is thus the sphere of immediacy, essence, on 
the other hand, is the sphere of mediation. Mediation in being 
is implicit. In essence it is explicit. It lies immediately to 
hand. The categories of essence go in pairs such as cause and 
effect, action and reaction, substance and accident, identity 
and diversity, positive and negative. Each category in a pair 
explicitly refers and points to its correlative category. Each 
mediates the other. The categories of being are like single 
stars which appear to be self -governed but in reality form parts 
of one vast system of universal attractions. Their connection 



with the others is implicit, hidden. The categories of essence 
resemble those double stars which are linked together and 
revolve round each other. In their case the connection is open 
and explicit. This second part of the Logic is called the 
sphere of essence because in each pair of categories one is con- 
ceived as the essence or ground of the other, as the inner 
essential reality of which the other is the outer rind or appear- 
ance. Thus a substance is conceived as the underlying sub- 
stratum of its accidents. A cause is the ground of the effect 
and is manifested in the effect. Identity is thought of as the 
inner core of reality which manifests itself in diversity and 
multiplicity, — as we see in all those philosophies which regard 
the Absolute as a self-identical one which manifests itself in 
the multiplicity of the phenomenal world. 

165. As being is the sphere of immediacy, and essence of 
mediation, so finally the Notion is the sphere of the merging 
of mediation. For, on the one hand, the categories of the 
Notion mediate one another. They explicitly refer to one 
another. This is the factor of mediation. But these cate- 
gories which are thus distinguished immediately collapse into 
a unity. The distinction is no sooner made than it vanishes. 
The unity in which all distinctions thus disappear is, for that 
reason, a new immediacy, — an immediacy resulting from the 
absorption of all mediation. This is the factor of immediacy. 
Thus, in general, being is immediacy ; essence is mediation ; 
the Notion is the unity of immediacy and mediation. 

166. In every triad the firs t term , the t h em , rep refi fiit fi t hr 
stage of simple apprehension ja nfi rnrrflspnnrU to the doctrine 
of terms in formal logic. The antit hesis representsthe prin- 

ciple of the under standingand^corresponds to the doctrine 
of judgmen ts. The synth esis repraente the principle of 
reaso n: and corresponds tothe doctrine^ oLthe syllogism. 1 The 

1 These statements may appear to conflict with the passage above quoted 
from Hegel (141) where he says that the first term is that of understanding, 
the second that of negative reason, the third that of positive reason. There 
is, however, no conflict. Both statements are true. The first term viewed 
by itself in its isolatedness is a simple self -identity — simple apprehension. 
Viewed in its relation to the second term its very isolatedness implies that 
it is different, distinct from, the second term. Viewed in this way its 
principle is distinction, which is the principle of the understanding. So 


first_tennis simply apprehende d, by itself, as this single term, 
e.g. being. >Mo proposition, no judgment, is as yet framed as 
TegafEs it. When we pa ss to the second term 1 _g ; ^j ipthing t 
we now have a judgment, being is nothing. The simple self- 
identity~of the fifst term has deve loped a ^iffpr mce within its 
o wn subst ance. Bri n£ now nplit n in rwnin, it becomes b fijn g 
arid its opposite, nothing. Here then, in place of simple self - 
identity, we nave ditl erence, distinction, mediation. This is 
the__rjri nciple of the u j^fr ?fqnf 1iE£_ The_Jirst term taken 
alon e r before we proceed to the second term, is a self-identity ; 

"Being is being and nothing more, is A. The passage to the 
sgCQ fld.te rrn gives ug^iffe^egce. ^Js^iotjio w simply itself ; 
it is something different from A ; it is B ; hence we have 

< ATls iV jTg. being is^notRTngr~ ^yis is a judgment . The first 
term is simple identity, the second simple difference. - The 
third term is the unity of the fi rst two, identity in difference , 
jtj thus c orresponds^o^the _syllogis m, inw hich the two ex - 
tremes, "the iria i oiFand the minor term, are brought together 
jnt n lin ity ft n the common gr ound of the middle terrn^. This 
js the principle of reas on. 

These remarks apply to the three main divisions of the 
Logic. The doctrine of being corresponds to the doctrine of 
terms in formal logic. Each of its categories is apprehended 
simply and immediately as a self-identical, self-subsistent 
entity standing by itself on its owri basis. The doctrine of 
essence has for its principle mediation and diversity, which 
are the principles of the understanding. It thus corresponds 
to the doctrine of judgments. The doctrine of the Notion 
corresponds to the syllogism inasmuch as its principle is the 
principle of reason, identity in diversity. 

167. We have already seen that, on the one hand, the 
categories are definitions of the Absolute (102). It is of 
essential importance to understand that they are also, on the 
other hand, definitions of, or concepts applicable to, the actual 
existent universe, the external world of objects. They are just 

also the second term has two aspects. As distinct from the first term it 
represents understanding. As identical with its opposite, i.e. the first 
term, it contains the principle of negative reason in the sense described in 
the passage above (141). 


first_tennis simply apprehende d, by itself, as this single term, 
e.g. being. >Mo proposition, no judgment, is as yet framed as 
TegafEs it. When we pa ss to the second term 1 _g ; ^j ipthing t 
we now have a judgment, being is nothing. The simple self- 
identity~of the fifst term has deve loper* a diffprp nce within its 
o wn subst ance. Bri n£ now Tiplit n in rwnin, it becomes b fijn g 
arid its opposite, nothing. Here then, in place of simple self - 
identity, we nave diil erence, distinction, mediation. This is 
the__rjrj nciple of the U jKje r?fqnr iiE£_ The_Jirst term taken 
alon e r before we proceed to the second term, is a self-identity ; 

"Being is being and nothing more, is A. The passage to the 
sgCQ fld.te rrn gives ug^ifferegce. ^Js^iotjio w simply itself ; 
it is something different from A ; it is B ; hence we have 

< ATls iV jTg. being is^notRTngr~ ^^is is a judgment . The first 
term is simple identity, the second simple difference. - The 
third term is the unity of the fi rst two, identity in difference , 
jtj thus c orrespondsjo^The ^syllogis m, inw hich the two ex - 
tremes, "the iria i oiFand the minor term, are brought together 
jnt n lin ity ft n the common gr ound of the middle terrn^. This 
js the principle of reas on. 

These remarks apply to the three main divisions of the 
Logic. The doctrine of being corresponds to the doctrine of 
terms in formal logic. Each of its categories is apprehended 
simply and immediately as a self-identical, self-subsistent 
entity standing by itself on its owri basis. The doctrine of 
essence has for its principle mediation and diversity, which 
are the principles of the understanding. It thus corresponds 
to the doctrine of judgments. The doctrine of the Notion 
corresponds to the syllogism inasmuch as its principle is the 
principle of reason, identity in diversity. 

167. We have already seen that, on the one hand, the 
categories are definitions of the Absolute (102). It is of 
essential importance to understand that they are also, on the 
other hand, definitions of, or concepts applicable to, the actual 
existent universe, the external world of objects. They are just 

also the second term has two aspects. As distinct from the first term it 
represents understanding. As identical with its opposite, i.e. the first 
term, it contains the principle of negative reason in the sense described in 
the passage above (141). 



as applicable to this hat, that book, this tree, that star, as 
they are to the Absolute. They are the concepts by means of 
which~"We~see k to make the universe intelligible. JThlitHwe 
■ean— bring external objects under such categories as being, 
substance, cause, quality, quantity, etc., is obvious. It is not 
so obvious, but it is equally true, — and indeed it is the purpose 
of the Hegelian philosophy to prove — that even the supreme 
categories are applicable to, and give us the truest knowledge 
of, the world of objects. For even this crass world of matter 
essentially is, if we could only see it, nothing else than the 
Absolute Idea. There is nothing but the Idea. JThe Idea is 
all reality. The , -y y e have seen, is spirit. We may now 

add that the Icjsa isJ&Qligh±J: J 11g t as the category of sub- 
stance is the thought, the concept, of substance, so the Idea 
is the thought of thought, the concept of thought. To say 
that the categor y of the Absolute Idea , Just as much' as th e 
^categories of quantity, cause, etc J _ap plies even to the wor ld 
of matter, is equiv ale nt to sayTngthat the material world is, 
in reality, nothing but thought. The Logic will prove this. 
And it will prove it in the iollowing manner. .If it is admitted 
of any objec t,^sa^t±ds_Jiat r that it " is," tfr e n it will follow 
by absolute necessity of logi c that it is also " is nnt^^jj^j-, it 
" becomes," that it is ajl cause/' a. " pmhsran. ^" anrL fmally 
that it is thought, the Absolute Idea. _Jhis is precisely what 
the deduction of the categories proves. Being necessarily 
involves becoming. Therefore if a thing is, it also becomes. 
Becoming necessarily involves the next category, and therefore 
if a thing becomes it follows that the next category also applies 
to it. And so with the next and the next to the end of the 
Logic. Finally, therefor e, to whatever obje ct the cat egory o f 
bei ng app lies the category of the Absolute Idea applies also . 
In other words whatever is, i.e. tKe whole universe^is thought, 
or, if we~prefer to put it so, spirit. Tne proof of this consists 
"SCjely in tne detailed deduction of the categories. And if each 
link in the deduction is logically valid, then the proof is 
absolute and certain. 

1 The precise sense of these terms must be left to be conveyed by the 
detailed expositions of the Logic and the system generally. 


1 68. We seem to have two distinct points of view. Firstly 
the categories are definitions of the Absolute. Secondly they 
are definitions of the existent world. But these two points of 
view turn out to mean the same thing. For the phenomenal 
world, the actual universe, is not something different from, 
and lying outside of, the Absolute. So far as the world is real, 
so far as it is at all, it is the Absolute. The Absolute is all 
that is. And we have already said this when we said above 
" there is nothing but the Idea. The Idea is all reality " (167). 
For the Idea and the Absolute are synonymous terms. But 
although the world and the Absolute are thus identical, it is 
nevertheless true that within this identity there is a distinction 
between them. Or, as we said before (158), nature is the 
Idea, and also is not the Idea. 

169. It follows from what has been said that every category 
is applicable to every object in the universe. Such concepts 
as " chair, 1 ' " green," etc., apply only to some things. But 
each category is a concept which applies to everything, and 
this is just what Kant meant by saying that the categories 
possess universality. It remains to add that the application 
of some of the categories to all things is not so obvious as the 
application of others. It may be obvious that quality applies 
to everything, i.e. that everything possesses some quality or 
other. But it is not so obvious that the categories of the 
Idea apply to everything, i.e. that everything is thought. 
But that this is true is what the deduction will prove. For it 
will prove that whatever comes under the category of being, 
i.e. whatever is, comes under all the subsequent categories. 

170. The next point is that the Logic gives us a scale of 
values. The categories are all valid descriptions both of the 
world and of the Absolute. But the earlier categories, thoug h 
v^lid so far as they go, are inadequa te. The later categori es 
are progressively more and more adeq uat e , Fi nally, th* rat^. 
gory of the Absolute Idea, the last category^Js ainne the com - 
pletely adequ ate and true description of the world^of individual 
things in the world, and of the Absolute. To apply the cate- 
gory of being to an object, to say that " it is " is to express 
regarding it the absolute minimum of knowledge. No matter 



what the object, merely to know that " it is " is to know next 
to nothing about it. To know that u it becomes," is to know 
a little more. For becoming is being with an addition ; it is 
being plus nothing. Each step in the deduction of the cate- 
gories is a new determination, a new specification of the object, 
and therefore a new piece of knowledge. And since in this 
advance nothing is ever lost (144), since the later category con- 
tains all the earlier categories, each new category that we apply 
to the object means that we know that it possesses all the 
determinations represented by the earlier categories plus a new 
determination. Complete, full, and final knowledge of the 
object is therefore only given by the final category of the 
Logic. It is quite true to say of things in the world that 
they are qualitative and quantitative, that they are causes, 
effects, substances, and so on. But full knowledge of them 
only comes when we see that they are the Idea, that they are 
thought. And this piece of knowledge is complete in itself 
because it includes all the earlier pieces of knowledge. It is 
quite true to say of the Absolute that it is being (as Par- 
menides said), that it is substance (as Spinoza said) and so on ; 
but all these inadequate descriptions of the Absolute are 
absorbed and included in the full and final description of the 
Absolute as the Idea. 

171. The categories of being are, roughly speaking, th e 
concepts used by common sense and unreflective consciousness 
to cognize the world. The categories of essenc e are those used 
by science. T he categories of the Notion are those used by 
philosophy . The lowest phase of consciousness, crude sensa- 
tion, informs us merely that things are, are there, are present 
to the senses. This is the category of being. The other cate- 
gories of the general sphere of being are the various forms of 
quality, quantity, and measure. That a thing has such and 
such qualities and is of such and such a quantity, that the 
universe is composed of quantities of things having various 
qualities, — this is the common sense way of cognizing the 
world. Being, too, is the sphere of immediacy, and common 
sense regards immediacy as the truth of the world. What is 
immediately there, what is present, this chair, that table — 


these immediate objects are what common sense regards as 
real. And the qualities and quantities of things are just what 
is immediately perceived about them. 

172. We rise from this point of view to that of science. 
Here of course quantities and qualities are still of importance. 
But what distinguishes science from common consciousness is 
that it methodically classifies objects, and thereby introduces 
a host of distinctions and differences into the world of know- 
ledge. It is only common sense rendered more precise and 
elaborate. Precision, difference, distinction, — these are the 
work of the understanding, and characterize the second stage 
of the triadic movement. Consequently we shall expect to 
find science using chiefly the categories of essence. The most 
important categories of essence are the thing and its pro- 
perties, force and the manifestation of force, substance and 
accident, cause and effect, action and reaction. And these are 
precisely the conceptions which are the stock-in-trade of 
science in its attempt to cognize the world. Science attempts 
to ascertain what properties the thing has, what its cause is, 
by what forces it is governed, in what way it is in action 
and reaction with other things. 

173. These categories supersede those of being, and yield 
a more adequate knowledge of the world, and therefore science 
is an advance upon unreflective common sense. But com- 
pletely adequate knowledge is only attained in philosophy, 
which cognizes the universe by means of the categories of 
reason, as distinguished from the categories of understanding, 
which are those of science. The categories of philosophy, of 
reason, are those of the third sphere of the Logic, the doctrine 
of the Notion. Here we have the categories of thought, 
organism, life, teleology, and finally the Idea. That all things 
are thought, that the universe is a living spiritual organism, 
that it is governed by intelligence working towards ends, 
that it is, in the last resort, nothing but spirit, the Idea, — 
this is the full and final truth about the universe. And the 
knowledge of this is philosophy. 

Philosophy transcends science just as science transcends 
common thought. It is true that the world is composed of 



quantities and qualities. It is truer that the world is a system 
of causes and effects, actions and reactions. It is the perfect 
truth that the world is spiritual self-conscious thought. But 
it must not be supposed that the higher truth excludes the 
lower and opposes it. The higher categories contain the lower 
absorbed in themselves. Philosophy includes the truth of 
science. To say that the world is the Idea includes all that 
science desires to express when it talks of causes, substances, 
forces and the like. Science and philosophy are not opposed 
and alternative ways of cognizing the universe. Philosophy 
admits all that science has to tell us of the world, and supple- 
ments this knowledge with a completer view. 

174. Just a s tfre series of catego ries constitutes a series of 
concepts under which we cognize the external world, a seri es 
progressively incr easing in value and adequacy as it advances j 
so, and for the same reason s, it g ives us a series of increasi ngly 
adequate definitions of the Absolute . The Absolute is being. 
This is the first and poorest of all definitions. It is true, but 
totally inadequate. The Absolute is the Absolute Idea {i.e. 
personality, spirit, self -consciousness). This is the last and 
completely adequate definition. The intermediate categories 
give us definitions of intermediate value. 

Hegel also believed that if we extricate from the various 
historical systems of philosophy their essential and governing 
conceptions, we shall find that each such conception is a cate- 
gory of his own Logic ; and that the system which presents 
it appeared, roughly speaking, at a period in history corre- 
sponding to the place of that category in the Logic. Thus, 
apart from the purely physical conceptions of the Ionics, the 
first definition of the Absolute given in the history of philosophy 
is that of the Eleatics, i.e. the Absolute is being. This is also 
the first category of the Logic. Immediately after this we 
have Heraclitus, the central conception of whose philosophy 
is becoming, which is the second positive category of the 
Logic. 1 Soon after Heraclitus we have the Atomists. The 

1 As a matter of fact, it can hardly be doubted, I think, that Heraclitus 
was historically prior to the Eleatics and that Parmenides was acquainted 
with, and consciously opposed his teachings. But the point is not of much 
importance here. 


central conception of their philosophy, their definition of 
reality was, according to Hegel, the category of being-for-self, 
which appears in the Logic a little later than becoming. 
Later in history we have Spinoza with his philosophy of sub- 
stance, a category which, in the Logic, appears in the doctrine 
of essence. It must be admitted that this correspondence 
of history with the Logic is very rough and ready and cannot 
be pressed very far. 1 But Hegel bases upon it a new and 
interesting view of the evolution of philosophies. It is often 
supposed that systems of philosophy spring up in a haphazard 
manner, like so many freak speculations, and that they most 
of them contradict one another. But according to Hegel the 
history of philosophy presents a definite line of evolution, the 
principle of which is that the Idea gradually and progressively 
unfolds itself in time in the successive systems. Hence that 
history is not merely governed by chance and blind caprice, 
but is a rational development governed by the Idea itself. 
The Idea first posits itself in its most inadequate form, that 
of being. For being, and each of the categories, it must be 
remembered, is the Idea. Being is implicitly the Idea. This 
first phase of the self -positing of the Idea produced the philo- 
sophy of Parmenides. The Idea next posits itself, somewhat 
more adequately, as becoming. Hence arose the system of 
Heraclitus. And so the development proceeds until the final 
and completely true conception of the Absolute as the Absolute 
Idea is attained in the system of Hegel himself. 

According to this view the successive systems do not con- 
tradict, but supplement, each other. Just as the later cate- 
gories take up the earlier as factors of themselves, so the later 
systems take up the earlier into themselves, digest, assimilate, 
and absorb them. The teaching of Parmenides is true. So is 
that of Heraclitus. And the latter does not contradict the 
former. It includes and transcends it. For its governing 
idea, the category of becoming, includes and transcends the 
category of being. All philosophies, therefore, are true. But 

1 Hegel himself admits this. " To the historian of philosophy it belongs," 
he says, " to point out, more precisely, how far the gradual evolution of 
his thesis coincides with, or swerves from, the dialectical unfolding of the pure 
logical Idea " (Wal., Log., § 86 Z). The italics are mine. 



some are less adequate, some more so. Finally Hegel's own 
philosophy is the consummation of the whole historical series. 
It absorbs into itself all previous philosophies. For it defines 
the Absolute as the Absolute Idea. And the Absolute Idea 
is the final category which contains within itself all the others, 
being, becoming, cause, substance, and the rest. 

With this is connected Hegel's entire view of history. The 
universal history of the world, he thinks, is not the playground 
of blind chance. Its process is governed by the Idea, that 
is to say, by reason. History is the progressive self -manif est%- 
tion of the Idea in time. And th is is wha t is called hy theolo- 
gians " the divine governanre of the world. " Hegel attempts 
to carry out this idea in detail in his presentations of the 
development of philosophy, of art, of religion, and of political 
history. We now turn to the detail of the Logic. 




175. The general characteristics of the sphere of being have 
already been described (163. 171). We have seen, too, for what 
reasons the science of Logic necessarily begins with being 
(114 to 120). Nothing further need, therefore, be said under 
these heads. It only remains to say, by way of introduction, 
that the doctrine of being falls into three spheres of categories, 
viz. (1) quality. (2) quantity, and (3) measure. We proceed 
to deal with these in order. 

« 34 



176. The specific category of quality is not the first in this 
sphere, but as all the categories in the sphere are, as we shall 
see, qualitative in character, the term quality is used as the 
name of the general sphere as well as of the special category. 
In the same way the term being is used in three significations. 
It is the name of the first category ; it is the generic name of 
the three categories of the first triad ; and it is the name of 
the entire sphere which includes quality, quantity, and measure. 


A. Being 

177. Being is the first category for reasons already dis- 
cussed (114 to 120). It is the highest possible abstraction. 
All character, all determinations cf any kind, have been 
abstracted from. Hence being has no character and is utterly 

B. Nothing 

178. Because being is thus utterly empty, it is therefore 
equivalent to nothing. The thought of nothing is simply the 
thought of the absence of all determination. When we think 
of anything we can only think it by virtue of its having this 
or that determination, size, shape, colour, weight, etc. What 
has no determinations of any kind is an absolute emptiness, 
nothing. And because being is by its very definition the 
absence of all determination, it is nothing. 



This is also evident if we take being as the predicate of a 
proposition. Reality, we might say, is being. This is only 
a tautological way of saying, reality is. In that form we see 
that being is not a true predicate, but merely a copula. It 
does not define reality in any way, but leaves our knowledge of 
it completely empty. If we are told that reality is, we natur- 
ally ask, what is it ? The predicate being provides no answer. 
Instead of a proposition in the form S is P, we have one in 
the form S is — , the predicate being represented by a blank 
which is equivalent to a cipher. This cipher, which is all 
being represents, is nothing. Being, then, is nothing. If 
there were any difference between them it must consist in 
the fact that being possesses some determination which nothing 
lacks. But being has no determinations whatever. Therefore 
there can be no difference. The thought of being and the 
thought of nothing are the same, and pass into each other. 

C. Becoming 

179. Thus being passes into nothing. But nothing equally 
passes into being. For the two as identical are as the two 
sides of an equation, and every equation may be reversed. 
If A=B, then B=A. The assertion that nothing passes back 
into being is apt to puzzle the beginner, even when he has 
seen that being passes into nothing. This is because the idea 
of " passage" brings time-associations and images into the 
mind. We know that, with regard to actual changes of things 
in time, a change in one direction does not involve a change 
in the reverse direction. That a leaf turns from green to 
yellow does not necessitate its changing back from yellow to 
green. Some such thought puzzles us here. But here the 
" passage " is only a logical or equational transition. It means 
only that the thought of being is identical with the thought 
of nothing, and from this it follows that the thought of nothing 
is identical with the thought of being, i.e. that nothing passes 
back into being. This passage of being into nothing and 
nothing_ into bei ng is becoming. The passage of nothing^ 
into bei ng is origination, or coming-to-be. The passage of 



being in to nothing is decease, or ceasing; to-be. Origination 
an d decease may be regarded as sub-catego ries. 

180. Becoming is the concrete unity of being and nothing. 
It is a unity because it involves their identity. The distinction 
between them has vanished in the identity. They have col- 
lapsed to unity. But the unity is concrete because it still 
contains the difference preserved within it. It is not a mere 
abstract unity like the ordinary " concept/* which includes 
what is common to the things of a class, but excludes their 
differences. Becoming includes the differences as well as the 
identity. Being and nothing are identical, and this gives us 
the category of becoming. But we must not deny their 
difference merely because of their identity. They are at once 
absolutely identical and absolutely distinct. Becoming in- 
volves both. The "passage" is only another word for the 
identity. But were there no difference there could be no 
passage, no becoming. If A is to become, it must become 
something different from itself. A cannot become A, for there 
is no becoming, no change here. It must become B. 

Further Explanations 

181. The categories of the Logic are successive definitions 
of the Absolute. The first category is also the first definition 
given in history. The Absolute is being. This was the de- 
finition put forward by Parmenides. The philosophy of Par- 
menides also involved the category of nothing or not-being, 
though he denied that reality could be defined by that cate- 
gory. Heraclitus was responsible for the view that reality is 
becoming, — the second definition of the Absolute. 

182. The objections of common sense that, if being and 
nothing are identical, it is the same whether we have dinner 
or no dinner, whether we exist or do not exist, etc., are beside 
the mark. No such absurdities are implied. We have in view 
here only the empty indeterminate abstractions, being and 
nothing. Such entities as dinner are not indeterminate. Din- 
ner is, for example, determined as solid, hot, coloured, eatable, 
and so forth. It is only pure being, indeterminate being, 
which is identical with nothing. 


183. We must be careful not to think any time-element into 
the category of becoming. Being and nothing pass into each 
other logically, not one after the other in time. But, it will 
be said, the idea of becoming, change, etc., essentially involves 
time and is meaningless without it. The answer is that be- 
coming involves time only in the same sense that quantity 
involves matter or at least space. But in thinking the pure 
thou ght quantity we have to abstract from the element nf 
jpace or matter. And in thinking the pure thought, .of 
.becomi ng we must abstract from the e lement of time. 1 

184. Being^is not the same as existence. To say of anything 
that 41 it is " is not the same as saying " it exists." " It is " 
is an incomplete proposition, a proposition with no predicat e ^ 
On hearing it we demand a predicate ; we ask " what is it " ? 
But " it exists " is a complete proposition. It contains an 
implied predicate, namely, " in relation with other things." 
The proposition " it exists " means that " it " is a part of the 
universe, and that it stands in mutual relations with othf r 
things . It means that " it " is a part of that rationaj^y 
ordered system of entities and re lations which we disti nguish 
as real from the entities in dreams^ hallucinations L and the 
like. Hence existence is a much more complicated, rich, and 
concrete idea than mere empty being, and for that reason 
existence appears as a category at a much later stage of 
the Logic (262). 



185. We are now at the category of becoming. Becoming, 

as we have seen (180), depends as much upon the difference of 

being and nothing as upon their identity. A cannot become 

1 1 am unable to agree with Dr. McTaggart's view (Com. §§ 18, 19) that 
Hegel's category of becoming is not intended to include the conception of 
change. Such a view flies in the face of Hegel's text. The name becoming, 
the names of the sub-categories origination and decease, the references to 
Heraclitus, constitute overwhelming evidence that Hegel conceived his 
category of becoming as change. Such a deduction of change, Dr. McTag- 
gart thinks, would not be valid. Whether the deduction is valid or 
not may be an arguable question. But that Hegel intended to deduce 
change seems to me indisputable. 



A ; a young man cannot become young. A must become B ; 
the young man must become old. Hence, if the difference 
between being and nothing were to collapse, becoming itself 
would collapse. But the difference has collapsed, for being 
and nothing are identical. Therefore becoming itself dis- 
appears and abolishes itself. This thought may be otherwise 
expressed as follows. Becoming is, firstly, the passage of 
being into nothing. But nothing is being. Therefore becom- 
ing is the passage of being into being. But this is not a 
becoming. Therefore becoming has disappeared. Becoming 
is, secondly, the passage of nothing into being. But being is 
nothing. Therefore becoming is the passage of nothing into 
nothing, which again is not a becoming. Becoming thus 

But the result of this process is not mere nonentity. What 
we have left is still obviously the unity of being and nothing. 
All that has disappeared from it is the element of change. 1 
Hence we are left with the unity of being and nothing now in a 
state of rest. This is clearly a kind of being, for it has being 
in it. But it is a being which does not become, does not at 
once disappear into nothing. It is no longer true that one may 
say of it equally either that it is not, or that it is. It now 
definitely is. It is this definiteness of the being which con- 
stitutes the new category. It is definite, i.e. determinate, 
being, one sort of being as opposed to another. It is being 
so and not otherwise. It is determinate being. 

The original empty category of being had for its very 

nature the absence of all determination. We have now 

arrived at the conception of a being which has determination. 

We cannot as yet say what determination it has. We have 

only arrived at the general idea of determination as such. We 

may know that a thing is coloured, without knowing what 

colour it is. And we have here in the same way merely the 

general conception of a being which has some determination. 

This purely abstract idea is the whole content of the category 

of determinate being. 

1 That the element of change disappears is essential to the deduction. 
But it will be noticed that it infringes the Hegelian principle (144) that 
as the dialectic proceeds nothing is ever lost. 


To me it seems that this deduction is invalid. It appears 
to derive its force from a play upon the word definite. To 
say that a thing now definitely is, means that it has ceased to 
chop and change between " is " and " is not." Quite another 
meaning of the word definite creeps in when we use it as a 
synonym for determinate. And this is probably why Hegel 
at this point has recourse to metaphor — " the deus machina 
of an argument " — to enforce the shaky deduction. " Becom- 
ing " he says, 41 stands before us in utter restlessness. . . . 
Becoming is, as it were, a fire, which dies out in itself, when 
it consumes its material. The result of this process, however, 
is not an empty nothing, but . . . determinate being ; the 
primary import of which evidently is that it has become. 11 1 
Sensuous metaphors of this sort should, like the myths of 
Plato, make one suspicious that they cover up a break in 
the thought. 

Sub-Section I 

1 86. We have reached the idea of determinateness as such. 
And the determinateness which has been thus deduced is 
quality. This is not at once obvious. It is obvious that 
quality is a kind of determinateness ; but it is not the only 
kind. The quantity of a thing is also a determination of it. 
How, then, can Hegel, having merely deduced determinateness 
in general, claim to have deduced the particular kind of de- 
termination which we call quality ? The answer to this 
question is as follows. Determinate being is a being which 
definitely is, i.e. does not at once disappear into nothing (185). 
What prevents it from disappearing into nothing is its de- 
terminateness. If it had no determination it would be pure 
being, and pure being does disappear into nothing. Hence the 
determinateness which we have before us is a kind of deter- 
minateness such that the very being of the being depends upon 
it. Destroy the determinateness and the being itself is de- 
stroyed (disappears into nothing). In fact the . determinate- 
ness is the being. For it is only by virtue of its determination 

1 Wal., Log., § 89 Z. 


that the being is. The determinateness is part and parcel 
of the being. They are identical, cannot be separated or 
regarded as external to each other. 

Now this kind of determination, which is identical with the 
being of a thing, and cannot be separated from it, is quality. 
The quantity of a thing, on the other hand, is a determination 
which is quite separable from the being of the thing, and is 
external to it. Suppose that the thing under consideration 
is oxygen. It possesses the quality of supporting combustion. 
If this quality were destroyed it would cease to be oxygen. 
The very being of the oxygen is its qualities. Alter these 
qualities and the oxygen as oxygen ceases to exist. Thus 
the quality of a thing is a determination which is identical with 
the being of the thing. It is quite otherwise with quantity. 
You may increase or diminish the quantity of the oxygen to 
any extent whatever without affecting its being as oxygen in the 
slightest degree. Quantity is thus a determination which is 
external and quite indifferent to the being of a thing. Now 
what we have deduced is, as proved above, determinateness 
which is identical with being, and with the disappearance of 
which the being itself disappears. Therefore we have deduced 

187. Quality, however, splits into two. . It may be regarded 
as either positive or negative . On the one hand the quality 
of a thing constitutes it what it is, co nstitutes its b eing. That 
a thing has such and such a specific gravity, supports com- 
bustion, is colourless, odourless, etc., constitutes that thing 
oxygen. The quality is, from this point of vie w, the very 
being, the reality of the thing . On the other h and, since 
determination is negatio n, quality also possesses this negative 
aspect. The qualities which make a thing oxygen also make 
it woThydrogen. Quality is thus also negation . Realit y and 
negatio n are the two sub-categories o f quality. 

l88., _Real i ty, as understood in the last paragraph, is not the 
same as absolute reality, independent being. It was in this 
latter sense that we used the term reality earlier in this book 
(12 et seq.). By reality in the present context, however, Hegel 
jneans simply, the fact o f a thing being there^ b^g^Uasitivdy 


present. In this£ense whatever has determinate being, what- 
ever definitely is, is real.^ This is something more like the 
popular use of the word real. 

Reality is not, of course, the same as pure being. It is 
determinate being. It is only its determinations, its qualities , 
that make a thing real. And in the same way negation *j s 
not the same as nothing. It is not an empty nothing butj , 
determinate nothing . It is the negation o f nnmpthinp defi nite. 
Nothing negates everything whatever. Negation only negates 
some definite entity. For example the sea is the negation of 
the land. But the sea is not nothing. 

189. The quality of a thing regarded in its positive aspec t 
^reality) Js the inherent character or being of the thing as it 
4s in itself apart from all other thing s. So considered it is 

the sub-category of being-in-itself. The quality regarded in 
its negative aspect (negation) is Ihe character of the thing as 
^negating some other thing . Jt is then a being wh ich stands 
in relation to (negates) other thin gs. As such it i<TtKe suB- 
category of being-for-othe r. 

Sub-Section II 

190. The stage which we have now before us is the category 
of quality. For we need not consider further the sub-categories 
to which quality gave rise. Keeping before our minds, then, 
the idea of quality, we have to deduce from it, i.e. show that 
it necessarily involves, the next category, which is limit. 
This transition is very easy and obvious. For we have already 
seen that the ideas of determination and limit involve each 
other (43). The transition really depends simply on the 
principle that determination is negation. A quality is a de- 
termination of a thing, and determination is negation. But to 
negate a thing is to limit it. Hence a quality is a limit. In 
this way the category of limit is deduced from that of quality. 

191. A meadow is a meadow and not a pond because it 
possesses the qualities of a meadow and not those of a pond. 
These qualities which it possesses constitute it what it is. 



But they also determine it as not being what it is not. Its 
being a meadow, its possession of the qualities of a meadow, 
is just what limits it, prevents it from being a pond. Thus its 
positive quality is also its negation or limit. The word limit 
is of course here used in a qualitative, not in a quantitative, 
sense. The physical boundaries of a land limit it in space. 
Ttiey limit its quantity or size. But the qualities of the land 
limit it in the sense that they define it as this kind of land as 
opposed to that. Qualitative limits are not physical boundaries 
in space. But the boundary lines between species and species 
are qualitative limits. Thus reason constitutes the boundary 
that cuts off man from the rest of the animals. , And the 
boundaries between species are obviously constituted by their 
specific qualities. Hence quality clearly involves limit. 

The general sphere of categories which come under the title 
of limit falls into three specific categories : 

A. The Finite 

192. Limit obviously involves finitude. For to be limited 
is to be finite. And the category of the finite implies a further 
category which Hegel calls 

B. Alteration 

193. For the finite is that which has a limit. And if some- 
thing is limited, it follows that beyond the limit there must 
be another something. For a limit or boundary cannot be a 
boundary of only one thing. It must be necessarily a boun- 
dary between two things. To be finite means to be limited 
by something else. There is therefore the 4 * something" and 
the 11 other. 1 1 Or the same result may be reached in another 
way. It is in its negative aspect that quality is limit. The 
thing which has quality thereby negates ; but it does not 
negate itself; it nega tes an "other." The quality of light 
negates darkness. Or lastly, the very notion of limit implies 
that there must be something beyond the limit. Tc know 
that there is a limit is to know that there is something beyond 
it (66). We have arrived therefore at the conception of " some- 
thing " and " other." Something is a more advanced con- 


ception than mere being. It essentially belongs to the sphere 
of determinate being. For it means this definite being as 
opposed to that This is the " something " ; that is the "other." 

But the other is also a something. There are two some- 
things. And each something is also an oth er. There are two 
others. If A is the something and B is its other, then B is 
also something and A is its other. It is indifferent which we 
call something and which we call other. Something an d other 
are therefore identical. Each passes into the other. Thus 
something becomes other. And this change of something into 
other, this becoming other, is alteration (alter = other). 

194. This deduction is apt, like the statement that being 
and nothing are identical, to be puzzling if the reader fails 
to keep before his mind the pure abstract categories involved 
and allows sensuous images to take their place. We saw that 
the identity of being and nothing did not meai for example, 
that dinner is the same as no-dinner. So here the statement 
that something and other are identical does not mean that 
the something, light, is identical with its other, darkness, or 
that a pond is the same thing as a meadow. What we have 
to think is, not these concrete sensuous things such as pond, 
meadow, light, darkness, but the pure abstract categories 
" something " and " other." And the point is simply that 
every other is also a something, and therefore that the pure 
thought of something and the pure thought of other are 
identical. Being and nothing, as such, are the same. But 
this special sort of being, dinner, is not the same as nothing. 
Something and other, as such, are the same. But this special 
sort of something, light, is not the same as this special sort of 
other, darkness. This point, namely, that in the Logic we are 
throughout talking only about pure abstract thoughts, and 
not about sensuous objects, should be carefully kept in mind, 
not only as regards the transitions of being into nothing and 
something into other, but as regards all the transitions in 
the Logic. Failure to understand a deduction will frequently 
be removed by reflection upon this point. In explaining 
future transitions we shall not, as a rule, revert to it but shall 
assume that the reader has made it his own. 



195. Finitude, then, necessarily involves alteration. It is 
for this reason that all things finite change, perish, and pass 
away. It is no mere accidental fact that the finite is unstable. 
To be subject to mutation lies in the very notion of finitude 
itself. For the limit of the finite is constituted by its own 
inherent positive character, by its quality, and not by any- 
thing merely external to it. The meadow is limited by its 
own being, by the very fact that it is a meadow. But limit 
is negation. Therefore negation, not-being, are of the essence 
of finite things. Their very being, i.e. positive character or 
quality — is not-being. They contain within themselves the 
germs of their death and dissolution. 

196. Alteration is not the same as becoming. It is a more 
concrete, fuller category. Becoming is the passage of being 
and nothing into each other, as when a thing begins to exist 
or ceases to exist. Alteration is the passage of one something 
into another something (not into nothing) as when a leaf 
changes colour or a man grows old. Becoming is creation or 
annihilation. Alteration is change of quality. 

W7- Something becomes other. But this other is also a some- 

_thin gand therefore in turn becomes other. This oth er is a , rhrrd 
something and a gain hp^mpft ftfrh er : and so ad infinitum . 
Hence arises the notion of an infinite series of somethings. This 
is the popular idea of the infinite, i.e. mere endlessness, the 
unceasing reiteration of the same thing for ever, and is ex- 
emplified in infinite space and time and in the infinite numerical 
series. 1 But it is not the true conception of infinity. It is 
not the true infinite. It is the spurious infinite.- For each of 
the terms of the series, each "sprnething af TtT eaxE nrher ) ig 
itsel^nite^ For exrh is a snmpfhinpr whjrh ig limited by its 
"gthrfL— Thus however far we go. we never get beyond th e 
.finite. WpJiayp but an endless alternation of something and 
othe^r-a ii endless repetition o fterms eac h of whi chis^fipirp, sn 
that the finite is neve r go t rid of. This is an everlasting 

1 Mr. W. T. Harris {Hegel's Logic, pp. 201, 203-4) gives space and time 
as examples of true infinity. He is clearly mistaken. 

C. The Sputious Infinite 



attempt to grasp the infinite which however completely evades 
us. It ought to be infinite, but it never is. For this reason 
Hegel calls it the spurious, or false, or negative infinite. 

198. " This result," says Hegel/' seems to superficial reflec- 
tion something very grand, the grandest possible. But such a 
progression to infinity is not the real infinite. . . . When time 
and space, for example, are spoken of as infinite, it is in the 
first place the infinite progression on which our thoughts 
fasten. . . . The case is the same with space, the infinity of 
which has formed the theme ^pi-baffen declamation to astro- 
nomers with a talent for edification^ In the attempt to 
contemplate such an infinfte-etrr thought, we are commonly 
informed, must sink exhausted. It is true indeed that we 
must abandon the unending contemplation, not however be- 
cause the occupation is too sublime, but because it is too 
tedious . . . the same thing is constantly recurring. We lay 
down a limit : then we pass it : next we have a limit once 
more, and so for ever/' 2 

199. The endless reciprocal determination of something and 
other is thus the false infinite. But the other is identical with 
the something (193). Hence something in being determined by 
its other, is in reality only determined by itself. This is the 
true infinite. For genuine infinity means self-determination^ 
whereas the finite is wIIaL is tie Hummed by anotHer. The 
sgurious infinite is merely the unlimited. True infinity is the 

200. The full riches of this result are seen best by putting 
the above deduction in another way. Something becomes 
other. Something and other are opposites. The something is 
finite. Its other is therefore the infinite. Hence the finite in 
passing its limit transcends itself and becomes the infinite. 

1 Edification — a favourite bete noire of Hegel — invariably used by him 
in a contemptuous sense, as meaning edifying commonplaces, worthy- 

2 Wal., Log., §94 Z. 

Sub-Section III 

The True Infinite 



But this other, the infinite, is itself something, and so again 
turns into its other, the finite. Thus the finite is never truly 
transcended, for as soon as we pass to the infinite, this turns 
out to be only finite after all. Space is an example of this. 
We may take any point in it as a limit. This side the limit 
is finite. Beyond the limit is infinite space. But as soon as 
we get beyond the limit, we find that a further point may be 
taken as a further limit, and thus the infinite beyond turns 
out to be finite. This process of laying down limits and then 
transcending them goes on for ever. This is the spurious 

But, as we saw, when the something becomes other, it only 
becomes itself. It is self-determined. Thus the infinite is 
the unity of something and other. But since the something 
is the finite and its other the infinite, we get this result, that 
the infinite is the unity of the finite and infinite. 

The finite and infinite are placed by the understanding in 
irreconcileable antagonism to one another. The finite, it 
supposes, is not infinite, and the infinite is not finite. They 
stand facing each other, the one here, the other there, negating 
each other, totally opposed. But, says Hegel, this view, which 
is the common one, 44 fails to note the simple circumstance 
that the infinite is thereby only one of two, and is reduced to 
a particular, to which the finite forms the other particular." 1 
The infinite, according to this view, is limited by the finite, 
and is therefore itself finite. This is the spurious infinite, 
which only ought to be infinite, but is not, and cannot escape 
from the conditioning fetters of the finite. 

Reason breaks down this absolute opposition. The infinite 
is not something outside the finite ; it absorbs the finite into 
itself. The finite and infinite are identical as we see from the 
very self-contradiction of the view of understanding, which, 
by making them absolutely opposed, reduces the infinite again 
to a finite. Even according to this view, the finite and the 
infinite, are identical. For both are finite. Hence true in- 
finity is the sublation of this distinction, and the recognition 
of their identity in their difference. 

l Wal. ( Log., §95. 


In saying that the true infinite is the unity of finite and 
infinite, we must be careful to note that it is a concrete, and 
not merely an abstract, unity. The distinction is not simply 
abolished. It is retained within the unity. 

201. This doctrine of the infinite triumphantly solves the 
oldest and most formidable difficulty of philosophy and reli- 
gion. How, it has been asked, can the infinite ever become 
finite, how can God create a world ? How can the infinite 
issue forth out of itself to the formation of the finite ? That 
it should do so is a self-contradiction. Plotinus, Spinoza, and 
innumerable others, have struggled with this enigma. The 
infinite One of Plotinus can have no contact with the finite 
world, because to do so would limit its infinity. And it is 
impossible to see how the infinite substance of Spinoza ever 
came to differentiate itself into the multiplicity of the finite 
world. The philosophy of Spinoza goes to pieces on this rock, 
and is convicted of a hopeless dualism. 

But these contradictions in all previous philosophy result 
from the fact that they mistake the spurious infinite, the 
infinite of understanding, for the true infinite, the infinite of 
reason. Spinoza, guided by the one-sided view of the under- 
standing, regards the infinite as utterly excluding the finite. 
Therefore, of course, the finite can never come out of it. The 
true infinite has the finite within it. It is the finite. " The 
answer to the question, how the infinite becomes finite, is 
consequently this, that there is no such thing as an infinite, 
that is first of all infinite, and which is afterwards under a 
necessity to become finite, . . . but it is per se 9 already just 
as much finite as infinite." 44 This question, founded, as it is, 
upon the assumption of a rigid opposition between finite and 
infinite, may be answered by saying that the opposition is 
false, and that in point of fact the infinite eternally proceeds 
out of itself, and yet does not proceed out of itself." 1 It 
proceeds out of itself inasmuch as it produces the finite ; 
it does not proceed out of itself inasmuch as this finite 
is itself the infinite so that the infinite remains what it is, 
abiding in itself. 

*Wal., Log., §94 Z. 



202. As space and time were examples of the spurious 
infinite, so thought, in the highest sense, may be taken as an 
example (indeed the sole example) of the true infinite. 1 For 
pure thought, as we find it for example in the Logic, i.e. the 
system of reason, is self-determined and therefore infinite. 
The Idea is infinite. It puts forth the finite, nature, from 
itself, but in doing so it does not lose its infinity, nor does it 
pass out of itself. For nature is still the Idea. And the Idea 
maintains itself in nature, and though it goes forth into nature, 
yet in nature it is still itself, and abides in itself. Nature is 
the finite because it is not the Idea, because it is the other of 
the Idea. Yet nature is infinite because it is the Idea (158), 
for the other of the Idea is only itself, just as, at the present 
stage, the other of the something is only the something itself. 
Hence the Idea is both finite and infinite. It is therefore the 
true infinity, for it is the unity in difference of finite and 


203. The true infinite, which we have reached, is self- 
determined. It is nowise determined by another, for its other 
is absorbed within itself. Thus its being is wholly in and 
for itself. It is being-for-self. And being-for-self is infinite 

204. If we consider the three spheres of quality, namely 
being, determinate being, and being-for-self, we shall see more 
fully that the last is infinite being. The first sphere is empty 
being, undetermined, and unconditioned, a mere vacuum, 
[nto this undetermined vacuous being, negation enters. 
Negation is determination. Negation entering here, therefore, 

1 In reality, of course, every object in the universe is an example of every 
category (169) and therefore of this category. But some categories are 
obviously applicable to a particular object, while others are not (169). Thus 
the material world is in reality the Idea (158) ; but it more obviously comes 
under such categories as mechanism, causality, etc. So here anything 
might be given as an example of the true infinite. But the explicit and 
obvious example is thought. Hegel frequently gives empirical examples 
of categories, and he is always to be understood in this way. 


transforms being into determinate being. This is the first 
negation. Being is here simply negated, and so determined. 
Hence we get the categories which are all various expressions 
of the idea of determination, viz. quality, limit, finitude. In 
general this sphere is the sphere of being as determined and 
limited by its other, by what is outside itself ; that is to say, 
it is the sphere of finitude. 

The other, by which being is limited, is simply the negation 
which has entered into it. Determinate being has its negation, 
in the form of its other, over against it. But in being-for-self 
this other has been absorbed. The other is seen to be identical 
with the being of which it is the other. Thus the other, as some- 
thing over against the being, is here negated. Its otherness 
is negated, for it is now not the other of the being, but is 
identical with the being, and the being contains it. The 
other, which is negation, is itself negated. This is the negation 
of the negation, or, as Hegel calls it " absolute negativity." 
Such absolute negativity is the same as infinitude. For what 
we have here is being which has no other, no external other 
to limit it. Its other, which determines it, is only itself. It 
is thus self-limited, self-determined, and to be self-determined 
is to be infinite. 

205. Pure thought, the Idea, was our example of true in- 
finity. It is also, therefore, an example of being-for-self. 
But this example is truer when the abstract Logical Idea 
becomes concrete spirit. The highest form of spirit is self- 
consciousness. This is attained in philosophy, where thought 
has itself for its object. In this form, since it is its own 
object, it is for itself. It is then being-for-self. The other 
of the Idea, nature, is here negated, is brought back into the 
Idea, and ceases to be other. This is the negation of the 
negation, infinitude, being-for-self. 

The same thought is expressed in a different way when 
Hegel says that the ego is the readiest example of being-for- 
self. I am not only conscious of external objects. I am also 
conscious of myself. I as subject have myself as object. I 
am thus for myself. The ego is being-for-self. A stock or 
stone, on the other hand, is not for itself. It is only for me, 



i.e. it only exists for thought. It is thus being-for-other. 
Hence it is finite. But the ego, as being-for-self, is infinite. 

This example is really identical with the last. The ego, 
considered at the ordinary levels of consciousness, is not only, 
not fully, being-for-self. It has its other, the non-ego, outside 
itself. But in the supreme levels of consciousness, viz. philo- 
sophy, the ego finds that the non-ego is merely itself, i.e. 
that nature and the external world are nothing but the Idea, 
that is to say, thought. In being conscious of the non-ego, 
thought thus knows itself to be merely conscious of itself. 
It is pure self-consciousness. Its other is absorbed in it. It 
is purely and solely for itself, with no external other to limit 
it. Hence it is pure infinite being-for-self. 

The first category is this sphere is 

A. The One 

206. For being-for-self, as self-subsistent, is a unit, a one. 
By a one we mean that which is purely for itself, which is 
related only to itself, and excludes any relation to an other, 
a single self-subsistent entity. And being-for-self is precisely 
the being which excludes any relation to an other, for it has 
absorbed its other into itself. To put it otherwise, in being- 
for-self the distinction between itself and its other is sublated. 
The distinction and differentiation, and the multiplicity which 
they involve, being thus annulled, what we have here is a 
unity, that is to say, a one. 

207. In the previous sphere of determinate being the being 
stood in relation to an other. This relation may be figura- 
tively compared to a ray of light passing out from the being 
to its other. But now, in the present sphere, the other has 
been absorbed into the being. Instead of relation to another 
we have relation to self. The ray of light passing outwards is 
turned back upon itself, and returns to its source. From this 
metaphor of light Hegel calls being-for-self 44 reflection into 
self." For this reason, though the one is a unity, it is not 
to be regarded as an empty unity. An utterly empty unity, 
such as pure being, is not a unit. For to be a genuine unit 
implies self-subsistence. It implies a certain absoluteness, an 


independence of anything other than itself. This dependence 
only on self we find, for example, in the atoms, or units of 
being, which Democritus took to be the foundation of the 
world. And for this reason Hegel says that atomism was that 
philosophy which conceived the Absolute (the real) under the 
category of being-for-self. The atoms are final, ultimate, 
indivisible. Each unit is absolute. It does not arise from, 
or depend upon anything else. It is self-subsistent, a true 
unit, a one. That it is indivisible means that it is not de- 
pendent on composition of parts. It is not an aggregate of 
many. It is a pure one. It is just the idea of an abstract 
one, which is not a many, which Hegel makes the content of 
this category. The atom is a true unit, an abstract one, just 
because it is not dependent on a multiplicity. There is in it 
no multiplicity whatever. It is not related to a many, which 
would be, for it, an other. It is related solely to itself. Hence 
the self-relatedness, the reflection into self, which we have in 
being-for-self, gives us the category of the one. 

It is important to realize that this idea of reflection into 
self is necessary for the category of the one. Otherwise we 
might ask why the one was not deduced much earlier in the 
Logic. It might be said, for example, that the one could have 
been deduced from becoming straightaway since that was the 
unity of being and nothing. It might even have been said 
that the one should have been deduced from pure being, for 
even that is an empty unity. But the one is not merely a 
unity ; it is a unit. It is an absolute being. Its absoluteness 
involves self-determination which only emerges here with 

208. From the one issues 

B. The Many 

or the many ones. For the self- relation of t he one is a negative 
relation. By a " negative relation " Hege l^eanslTTeialifin^o 
an other, i.^a^j^laj^oji^ 

^Dr^trle^elf-relatedness of the one exists only by ^virtue oj 
the fact that it has its ot her in it. Being has only become 
being-tor-sell by absorbing its othej . Its self-relation is, 



therefore, relation to an other. That other is internal to ifr , 
yet t because it is an nt\]pr i it is also external to it. For to 
be an other means to be external. Or we may put the same 
thing in another way. That the one is self-related means 
that the one is related to the one. This involves a distinction 
between the one which is related and the one to which it is 
related. The one distinguishes itself from itself. It " repels 
itself from itself," to use Hegel's own phrase. Thus the one 
suffers self-diremption into a multiplicity of ones, the many. 
The one repels the one from itself, puts it outside itself. The 
one which repels is thus distinct from the one which is repelled. 
There are two ones. And since each of these again splits in 
two, and so on indefinitely, we have therefore an indefinite 

209. From this we pass to 

C. Repulsion and Attraction 

That the one repels itself from itself — this is repulsion. It 
is that element of distinction between the ones which keeps 
them separate. Each one excludes the other ones from it. It 
is only by virtue of the fact that it excludes the others that 
it retains its self-identity and continues to be a one. Each 
one only maintains itself as one by cutting itself off from the 
other ones, be enforcing the boundary between them. 

But the many are one the same as another. Each is 
one. Hence they are one and the same. All are identical. 
This bond of identity is the opposite of that element of dis- 
tinction and mutual exclusion which has been called repulsion. 
Hence this relation of identity is called attraction. We must 
not be misled into supposing that Hegel is here attempting 
to deduce the physical forces of attraction and repulsion. 
The names used are indeed physical metaphors. But they are 
purely figurative. Repulsion merely means that the many 
ones exclude eacrfother. Attraction merely means that they 
are at the same time identical. Repulsion is the mutual ex- 
clusion of the ones by each other, whereby they emphasize their 
difference. Attraction is their mutual inclusion and identity. 



210. At the end of the last chapter we reached the categories 
of attraction and repulsion. That is the point at which we 
now stand, and it is from these categories that the notion of 
the next sphere, that of quantity, must be deduced. The 
deduction proceeds in the following manner. 

The many ones are identical with one another (209). Re- 
pulsion is the relation of a one to an other one. But since 
the first one is identical with the other one, its relation to 
the other one is a relation to itself. But the relation of 
identity of the one to itself is attraction. Therefore attraction 
and repulsion are identical. As this may appear puzzling we 
will repeat it in other words. The ones are related to each 
other in two ways. Firstly they are different from each other. 
This is repulsion. Secondly, they are identical with each other. 
This is attraction. Now if we have two ones, the relation 
between them, since they are different ones, is repulsion. But 
since they are also identical, the relation of the first to the 
second is only a relation of the first to itself. Thus it is a 
relation of self to self, i.e. a relation of identity ; and this is 
attraction. The relation between any two ones, therefore, is 
both attraction and repulsion at the same time. Therefore 
attraction and repulsion are identical. The relation of one to 
the other one (repulsion) is only its relation to itself (attraction). 
The distinction between attraction and repulsion thus collapses 
to unity. The two coalesce into one. This unity of attraction 
and repulsion is quantity. 

The last statement will be more clearly understood, if we 




remember that repulsion and attraction are respectively the 
same as the many and the one. Repulsion is the moment of 
separation and difference, and is thus the principle of the 
many. Attraction is relation-to-self, the moment of identity, 
and is thus the principle of the one. Thus, instead of saying 
that quantity is the unity of repulsion and attraction, we may 
say that it is the unity of the many and the one. 

This is at once intelligible. A quantity is not an abstract 
many, or an abstract one. It is essentially a many-in-one. 
Thus a line is quantitatively measured when we say that it 
is twelve inches long. This quantity is one — it is one line, 
or one foot. But it is many inches. A heap of wheat is 
one heap, but many grains. Neither unity nor multiplicity 
alone make up the notion of quantity. We must have a 
unity of both. A quantity is an aggregate of units — many 
units, one aggregate. 

211. There must be mutual exclusion (repulsion), otherwise 
there can be no many, and no quantity. There must also be 
identity (attraction). An aggregate, a quantity, can only be 
made up of parts having a common element, an identity. We 
cannot add a foot of space to a year of time. We can of 
course add a man, a cow, and a star, and say that they are 
a quantity of things. But then they are all things. This is 
the identity. No doubt in this sense we can even add a foot 
of space to a year of time, and say that they make a quantity 
of things (two). But we can only do this because of their 
identity as things, their " attraction " as Hegel would call it. 

212. Quantity, then, is deduced as the unity of the one 
and the many, or the unity of attraction and repulsion. But 
there is another important consideration here. Attraction 
and repulsion, as the final categories of quality, must contain 
all the previous categories of quality absorbed within them- 
selves. They must contain the entire fullness of quality. 
Therefore to abolish attraction and repulsiofi would be to 
abolish quality as a whole. Now, in the preceding deduction 
of quantity, we have just seen attraction and repulsion abolish 
themselves. For attraction turned into its own opposite, into 
repulsion. Attraction therefore is not-attraction. It con- 



tradicts and abolishes itself. And repulsion likewise abolishes 
itself because it is the same as attraction and thus contradicts 
itself. And since attraction and repulsion are thus abolished, 
and since they contain the whole of quality absorbed in them- 
selves, it follows that quality itself is abolished. Hence the 
result is a non- qualitative being. And this is quantity. 
Quantity is indifferent to quality. Quality, as we pointed out 
(186), is a kind of determination which is identical with the 
being it determines. But quantity is external to the being 
of the thing. As far as quantity is concerned it is matter of 
pure indifference whether the things quantified have this or 
that quality. Five horses are five horses whether they are 
brown, or white, or black. A mile is a mile whether it is a 
mile of metalled road or a mile of telegraph wires. Or again 
if we alter the quality of a thing it ceases to be the thing it 
was. But if we alter the quantity it does not change the 
thing in any way. Thus quantity is external and indifferent 
to the quality and to the being. Quantity is non-qualitative. 

213. Some critics have ridiculed Hegel for deducing quantity 
merely as not-quality. 1 That quality has abolished itself and 
that we now, therefore, have not-quality before us, and that 
not-quality is quantity, this is taken to be Hegel's deduction 
of quantity. Such a deduction, would, of course, be absurd. 
A horse is not a pig. But to deduce not-pig would not be 
the same as deducing horse. The criticism, however, is un- 
intelligent. Hegel does not deduce quantity as not-quality. 
He deduces it as the unity of repulsion and attraction, and 
he shows incidentally that this involves its indifference to 

214. Quantity, like the other categories, is a definition of 
the Absolute. That the Absolute is quantity, this is, on 
the whole, says Hegel, the point of view of materialism. As 
category, of course, quantity is a pure thought. But matter is 
essentially the externalization, the outward form, of this cate- 
gory. Quantity is the category of externality ; for the essence 
of a quantity is that its parts lie outside each other. And 
this externality, this outsideness of part to part, is also the 

1 See, for example, Mackintosh, Hegel and HeacUanisw. , p. 154. 



central feature of matter. Matter is the category of quantity 
become an object of sense. The materialist's definition of the 
Absolute as matter, therefore, places its essential character 
in quantity. 

215. The categories of quantity fall into three spheres, pure 
quantity, quantum, and degree. 


This sphere comprises a single triad of three categories. 

A. Pure Quantity 

216. To speak of quantum here is, properly speaking, an 
illegitimate anticipation. But for the sake of clearness we 
may at once distinguish between pure quantity and quantum. 
A quantum is any definite quantity, such as ten miles, five 
minutes, twenty pigs, a hundred degrees of temperature. 
Pure quantity is indefinite quantity which is not as yet 
carved up into quanta. Thus space in general is a pure 
quantity. When we carve out of space a definite amount, 
such as fifty feet, this is a quantum. Pure quantity is not 
necessarily, like space and time, infinite. It is merely^in- 
definite. Thus there are not, as a matter of feet, an infinite 
number of men. But men, an indefinite number of men, have 
the character of pure quantity. Carve out of this a definite 
number, fifty men, or a thousand men, and we have quanta. 

At the present stage we are dealing with pure indefinite 
quantity, quantity in general. That is all that we have 
reached in the course of the dialectic. We have not yet 
reached the idea of definite quantities. Pure quantity is the 
unity of repulsion and attraction. 

B. Continuous and Discrete Magnitude 

217. Quantity has two sources, namely, the identity of the 
ones, attraction, and the difference of the ones, repulsion. 
Quantity, regarded under the point of view of attraction, is 



continuous magnitude. Regarded under the point of view 
of repulsion, it is discrete magnitude. 

A quantity is necessarily a series of ones, or units. It 
is one, one, one, one, . . . etc. The fact that all these ones 
are identical (attraction) joins them together, and allows us to 
pass from one to the other. They make, in this way, a con- 
tinuity. And as such quantity is continuous magnitude. The 
fact that all these ones are different (repulsion) disjoins them 
and cuts them off from one another. Quantity, regarded from 
this point of view, is discrete magnitude. 

218. It must not be supposed that we have here two different 
kinds of magnitude, as though one quantity was continuous 
and another quantity discrete. Every quantity is both. 
These are but inseparable moments or characteristics of any 
quantity whatever. It would be nonsense to ask, for example, 
whether space is continuous or discrete. It is both. It is 
obviously continuous ; every part, so to speak, runs into the 
next. But it is equally obviously discrete, i.e. composed of 
parts, feet, inches, miles, etc. 

Continuous and discrete magnitude necessarily involve each 
other. Continuous magnitude is ipso facto discrete, and vice 
versa. Its continuity depends on its discretion. It is obvious 
that, only by having a plurality of separate ones (discretion) 
can there be any continuity between them. Continuity is 
only conceivable as a continuity of discrete ones. Likewise 
it is obvious that only by having a single continuous series can 
we chop it up into separate ones. In order to make quantity 
we must, as already stated, have both unity, or continuity, 
and difference, or discretion. Thus if we take a man, a cow, 
a harmonium, and a star, these make a quantity of things. 
That all are things, this is the identity. As so many things^ it 
is a continuous magnitude. As so many different things, it is 
a discrete magnitude. Ten feet of space is continuous, because 
all ten feet are identical ; all are space. It is discrete because 
it is divided into ten separate feet. 

219. By means of this fact that every quantity is both 
continuous and discrete Hegel solves at one stroke the ancient 
and previously insoluble riddle of Zeno about the infinite 



divisibility of space, time, etc. Zeno points out that if we 
say that space, for example, is infinitely divisible, then any 
finite quantity, say ten feet, must contain an infinite number 
of parts, which is self-contradictory. If on the other hand we 
say that space is not infinitely divisible, then it must be com- 
posed of indivisible units having magnitude, and that what 
has magnitude should be indivisible is a self-contradiction. 

But to ask thus whether space is composed of indivisible 
units, or is divisible ad infinitum, is the same as asking the 
foolish question whether space is continuous or discrete. The 
question assumes that it is either one, or the other, whereas 
in fact it is both. If space were simply discrete, i.e. chopped 
up into discrete ones, then it would be composed of indivisible 
units. If it were simply continuous then it would be divisible 
ad infinitum. Either of these suppositions is true, but neither 
is the whole truth. The whole truth is that space is quantity, 
and quantity is the unity of continuity and discretion. 

220. Now quantum differs from pure quantity by the fact 
that it is definite. To get a quantum we must introduce 
definiteness, or limits, into quantity. Space in general is 
quantity. A limited amount of space, e.g. ten feet, is a 
quantum. Hence the transition to quantum must be made 
through the category of 

C. Limitation of Quantity 

But the limit must not be merely introduced from outside. 
It must be deduced from the stage at which we have already 
arrived. How is this done ? Now it is evident that the idea 
of limit is implicit in what we have now before us. Though 
continuous and discrete magnitude involve each other, they 
are yet distinguished. But all distinction involves limit. 
Moreover this is precisely the limit that we want. A quantum, 
such as ten feet of space, is a magnitude regarded as discrete 
from the rest of space. The space on both sides of it is con- 
tinuous ad infinitum. The limits at each end of the ten feet 
line consist in distinguishing the ten feet quantum as discrete 
from the continuous quantity out of which it is carved. We 
can see then that the idea of limit necessarily arises here. It 


is implicit in the distinction between continuity and discretion. 
All that is required is to make it explicit. The precise detail 
of the deduction is as follows. 

Quantity arose in the dialectic from the one. The one con- 
tinues out of itself and becomes many ones ad infinitum (208). 
The many ones are both continuous and discrete By virtue 
of their continuity we may take any number of ones, say ten, 
together. By virtue of their discretion we may then cut off 
these ten from the rest, whereupon we have a quantum. 
This cutting off is the limitation of quantity. 

A Quantum 

221. Quantity, being thus limited, becomes quantum. 
The quantum is determinate quantity, whereas pure quantity 
was indeterminate. Hence we have here an advance 
which corresponds to the advance from pure being to deter- 
minate being. Pure being was indefinite. The element of 
negation, definiteness, limit, was found to lie within it, 
whereupon it became determinate being. Pure quantity was 
likewise indefinite, but now introduces into itself the element 
of negation, or limit, and so becomes definite quantity, or 

The factors of discretion and continuity become, in the 
sphere of quantum, 

5. Sum and Unity 

222. A quantum is an aggregate, a many, a plurality. As 
such it is sum, — a sum of many ones. This is the moment of 
discretion. But as continuous these many ones form a unity — 
one quantum. These two moments, sum and unity, necessarily 
involve each other and can no more be separated than discrete 
and continuous magnitude. Taken thus in their inseparable 
union with each other they constitute 



C. Number 

223. For the factors of sum and unity are precisely what 
make a number. To think the number seven, for example, 
we must first take an aggregate or sum of seven units, and we 
must then regard them as a unity, a single quantum. This 
gives us the number. 

The category of number is thus the perfect expression of 
quantum. This may also be seen from the fact that it is by 
number that we measure, i.e. mete, set bounds or limits to, 
quantity. Suppose we have an indefinite number of men. 
This is a pure quantity. We then count them, and they 
become a definite quantity, a quantum. Thus number is the 
perfect expression of quantum. 


224. The quantum is extensive magnitude. That is to say, 
the constituent units which compose the quantum lie outside 
one another. In ten feet of space each foot is external to all 
the other feet. In a hundred men, each man is separate from 
the others. In a numerical series each number is external 
to the other members of the series. But now we pass to a 
kind of quantity where this relation of externality is not 

Quantum is pure quantity with the addition of limit. The 
limit of a quantum is what determines its specific character. 
Thus the limit of the number ten is the tenth one. The limit 
of the number one hundred is the hundredth one, and so on. 
Now, since all ones are identical, therefore all the ones in the 
quantum are identical with the limiting one. Hence they 
disappear into it, coalesce with it. All of them, therefore, 
are internal to it, are absorbed within it, and thus the limit, 
or limiting one, is identical with the whole of the quantum. 
This gives us the idea of a quantum in which the separate ones 
do not lie outside each other and outside the limit, but are 


all internal to the limit itself, and absorbed within its simple 
unity. Such a quantum is intensive magnitude or degree. 

225. Just as ten feet of space, twenty men, etc., are ex- 
amples of extensive magnitudes, so a hundred degrees of 
temperature, or such and such a degree of brilliancy in light, 
or such and such a degree of intensity in colour, or tone, 
are examples of intensive magnitude, or degree. Thus if we 
consider a hundred degrees of temperature, we shall find that 
it corresponds to the description of intensive magnitude 
given in the last paragraph. A hundred feet of space lie out- 
side each other. But in a hundred degrees of temperature, 
the 99th degree, the 98th degree, and so on, do not exist by 
themselves, nor lie outside the hundredth degree. The hun- 
dredth degree is the limit. And only the hundredth degree 
exists, the others being absorbed within it. Hence the limit, 
i.e. the hundredth degree, is in this case identical with the 
whole quantum. 

Extensive magnitude is a manifoldness. It is " in itself 
multiple." Intensive magnitude is not thus multiple within 
itself. It is a simple undifferentiated unity " a simple de- 
terminateness. n 

226. We saw that continuous and discrete magnitude were 
not two kinds of magnitude which could exist apart from each 
other, but that they imply each other, and that every magni- 
tude has these two aspects. It is the same with extensive 
and intensive magnitude. In spite of their difference they 
involve each other, and are, in fact, identical. Every magni- 
tude is both extensive and intensive. This is proved by the 
following considerations. The intensive magnitude is identical 
with the limiting one, for the limiting one has, in intensive 
magnitude, all the other ones internal to it. The twentieth 
degree contains the other nineteen in itself. Nevertheless, 
these other ones are, at the same time, also external to the 
limiting one. For although they are absorbed in the limiting 
one, they are not annihilated but are still real. And this 
means that they have an existence of their own apart from 
the limiting one. They are different and distinct from it. 
They are other to it. That they are thus other to it, that they 


exist apart and distinct from it, means that they are external 
to it (not of course external in space, but in thought). Thus 
the ones are external to the limit and to each other, and to 
be so constituted is to be extensive magnitude. Intensive 
and extensive magnitude are therefore identical. 

According to Hegel, weight, heat, light, sound, etc., are 
examples of this identity. A mass, regarded as a number of 
tons, pounds, ounces, etc., is extensive. But as exerting 
pressure it is intensive. For the quantity of pressure is a 
degree. Warmth, again, has a degree. But it becomes ex- 
tensive magnitude when it manifests itself as the expansion 
of the heated matter. Thus a higher degree of temperature 
(intensive magnitude) expresses itself as a longer column of 
mercury in the thermometer (extensive magnitude). In other 
words an increase in degree is accompanied by a corresponding 
increase in extensive quantity. Similarly a higher sound-tone, 
which is degree, is manifested as extensive quantity in the 
greater number of vibrations. 

227. The sphere of degree falls into the three categories, 
(1) degree, (2) the quantitative infinite progress, (3) the 
quantitative ratio. 

A. Degree 

228. The deduction, and also the content and meaning of 
the category of degree, have just been explained. We can 
pass at once to 

B. The Quantitative Infinite Progress 

229. The quantum, as we saw, was formed by placing a 
limit within the continuous indefinite quantity. Now degree is 
also a quantum. The twentieth degree, for example, is a 
definite quantity and therefore a quantum. But the conception 
of degree depends upon the factor of continuity by virtue of 
which the other ones are identical with the limiting one. 
And by virtue of this same factor of continuity the ones 
within the limit, e.g. one, two, three, etc., up to twenty, are 
identical with the ones beyond the limit, i.e. twenty- one, 
twenty-two, etc. Thus the limit is broken down and passed 


over. The quantum passes beyond its limit into the indefinite 
quantity beyond. But this indefinite beyond, this indefinite 
quantity, again of necessity becomes a quantum. We have 
already seen (220) the dialectic by which every indefinite 
quantity necessarily becomes a quantum. This new quantum 
again transcends its limit, passes into the indefinite quantity 
beyond, which again becomes a third quantum, and so ad 
infinitum. Thus we have an infinite series, and this is the 
quantitative infinite progress. 

230. The dialectic here is similar to that by which we 
reached the spurious infinite in the sphere of quality. There 
the something passed over into another something and so 
ad infinitum. Here the quantum passes over into other quanta 
ad infinitum. There the something was finite, and therefore 
its other was infinite, but this infinite in turn became a finite 
something. Here too the quantum becomes infinite unlimited 
quantity. But this infinite is spurious. It again turns into 
a finite because (1) it is limited by the first quantum, and so, 
being merely the infinite as against the finite, it is itself limited 
by the finite ; and (2) because within this unlimited quantity 
a new limit perpetually arises. 

Thus the quantitative infinite progress is not a true but a 
spurious infinite. It is merely the perpetual see-saw of tran- 
scending a limit and then finding a new limit, which again is 
transcended, and so on for ever. The infinite is never reached. 
It never is. It merely ought to be. It is an ever unfulfilled 
aspiration. And Hegel remarks here, too, as in the case of 
the qualitative spurious infinite, that there is no true sublimity 
in it, but merely an endless weariness of meaningless repetition. 
It is at this point that we see the necessity whereby quantity 
must perpetually transcend all limits. We know, empirically, 
that no limit can be set to quantity, and that beyond any 
limit that we posit there is always more quantity. Thus any 
conceivable limit to space must have space beyond it. But 
this is now seen to be not a mere empirical fact, but a logical 
necessity. It lies in the very notion of quantity thus to exceed 
itself. The very notion of quantity involves the necessity that 
any quantum must pass beyond itself into another quantum, 



and so ad infinitum. It is the essential nature of quantity 
perpetually to extrude itself beyond itself. It not only does 
so. It must. That is what quantity means. 

231. This infinite is spurious, but it is not the same spurious 
infinite as we had before us in the sphere of quality. The 
course of the Hegelian Logic is throughout a progress, and 
there can never be a mere falling back to an earlier category. 
The former infinite was qualitative. This is quantitative. 
The former meant that the quality of the something was de- 
termined by something else and that by something else, so 
that the qualitative determination of the first something was 
never complete. This means that the quantity, as independent 
of quality, infinitely extends itself. 

C. The Quantitative Ratio 

232. We have arrived, then, at the quantum which passes 
over into ever other and other quanta and so produces an 
infinite series. But this infinite is spurious. It is negative. 
It is merely the not-finite, which as such is limited by the 
finite, and is therefore itself finite. The transition to the true 
infinite is accomplished here in exactly the same way as it 
was in the sphere of quality. There the something became 
another something ad infinitum. But the second, or any sub- 
sequent something, was identical with the first something. 
Therefore the determination of the first something by the 
others was only determination by itself. It was self-deter- 
mination, which is the true infinitude. Here the quantum 
passes into another quantum. But by the virtue of the 
principle of continuity, the second quantum is identical with 
the first. In this passage, therefore, the quantum is related 
only to itself. And with this we reach the quantitative 
ratio. For the conception which we have reached has two 
sides. It is (1) two quanta which are related to each other ; 
and it is (2) a single quantum which is formed by the coal- 
escence of the two quanta. But these two aspects are identical 
with each other. For the second aspect, the single quantum 
is the first aspect, the two quanta, except that the two have, 
in the single quantum, coalesced to one. Hence we have an 


equation. On one side of the equation are two quanta related 
to each other. On the other side is a single quantum. This 
gives us the arithmetical ratio. Take for example the ratio 
6 : 3. Here we have a quantum 6, related to another quantum 
3, and this relation is equal to a single quantum, the exponent, 
in this case 2. This gives us the equation 6:3=2. 



233. It has been pointed out that quantity is entirely ex- 
ternal and indifferent to quality (186, 212). A field may be 
increased in size without this in any way affecting its quality 
as a field.' Quantity, therefore, is wholly non-qualitative. 
But in the last category of quantity, namely ratio, quality 
again emerges, and this is a signal that we are now leaving 
the sphere of quantity behind. In what way does quality 
re- emerge in ratio ? In what sense can ratio be said to be 
qualitative ? 

Quantity is a determination which is external to what it 
determines. Quality, on the other hand, is an internal 
determination which is identical with the being which it 
determines. Self-determination, therefore, has the character 
of quality, not quantity ; for what is self-determined has its 
determination in itself. It is internally determined, not 
determined by anything outside itself. And such internal 
determination is quality. Now it was precisely the idea of 
self-determination, which, appearing in the quantitative in- 
finite progress, changed that category into ratio. One quan- 
tum passed into another. But this second quantum is 
identical with the first, so that the relation of the first quantum 
to the second is only its relation to itself. It is related to 
nothing but itself and is therefore self-determined. The 
appearance of self-determination here is the reappearance of 
quality. In ratio, to be more precise, quality appears on the 
side of the exponent. 

Thus in the expression 6 : 3=2, the side 6 : 3 is an external 



relation of two quanta, and is therefore quantitative. But 
the side 2 is a self-determined, self-related quantum. For 
it has been formed by the coalescence of the two quanta into 
one. Those two quanta were externally related to each other. 
But when they coalesce the relation between them becomes 
internal to the single quantum which is their result. This 
internal relation is a relation of the single quantum to itself ; 
and because it is self-related it is qualitative. 

In more external fashion the same thing may be expressed 
thus. We have here a self-related being. To be self-related 
is to be a being-for-self. Being-for-self is a category of 
quality. Hence we have here a qualitative determination. 

This also expresses itself in the ratio as follows. The side 
of external relation, 6 : 3, can be changed indefinitely without 
changing the exponent. Thus it may become 12 : 6, or 
120 : 60, without altering the exponent, which is still 2. 
These determinations 6:3, 12 : 6, etc., are thus external to 
the being which they determine, i.e. the exponent, and their 
alteration does not affect its being. And determinations 
which are thus external to the being of what is determined 
are, as we have seen, quantitative. But the case with the 
exponent is quite different The 2 cannot be changed without 
altering the other side of the equation correspondingly. It 
cannot be changed to 3 unless we alter the ratio, say, to 9 : 3. 
Thus the exponent is a determination which, if changed, like- 
wise changes the being which it determines, viz. the other 
side of the equation. And determinations which are thus 
identical with the being, and with which the being varies, 
are qualitative. 

Hence in the ratio we have a combination of quantity and 
quality. We saw at the beginning of the last chapter (210) 
that quality, when fully developed as repulsion and attraction, 
passed into quantity. We see now that quantity when fully 
developed as ratio, passes back into quality. But this is not 
a mere relapse to quality. The result is still quantity, but it 
is a quantity which is also qualitative. It is the unity of 
quantity and quality. This is a new category, and a new 
sphere. It is called Measure. Measure is the synthesis of 


the triad of spheres, quality, quantity, measure. Quality was 
the first affirmation. It went over into its opposite, quantity. 
Quantity is non- qualitative. It is the negative of quality. 
It is especially defined as that which is external and in- 
different to quality. Measure, then, as the unity of quantity 
and quality is the synthesis. 

234. The English word measure is vague and ambiguous. 
All that is required, however, to remedy this, is to explain 
the special sense in which the word is here used. In Hegel 
the word (Maass) implies proportion, balance. We say that 
language is unmeasured when it is disproportionate to the 
truth expressed, when it does not retain its sense of balance. 

Proportion obviously contains the idea of quantity. Every 
proportion is expressible as a ratio. We use such expressions 
as well balanced, well proportioned, both in regard to material 
and spiritual things. In either case the meaning is that the 
elements of the thing stand to each other in proper quantitative 
relations. What is ill proportioned, on the other hand, has 
quantitatively too much of one element, too little of another ; 
the ratio is wrong. But quality as well as quantity is con- 
tained in the idea of proportion. If the proportions of a 
thing vary beyond a certain limit, the whole character of the 
thing undergoes change. Its quality is altered. If the ratio 
of the sides of a square to each other are changed at all, the 
figure ceases to be a square. In the sphere of chemistry pro- 
portion is all-important and quality depends upon it. Water 
is hydrogen and oxygen combined in the ratio 2:1. If we 
make the ratio I : I, the whole quality of the substance com- 
pletely changes, and instead of water we have hydrogen per- 
oxide. Measure, therefore, may be defined as the dependence 
of quality upon quantity^ or as quantity upon which quality 

Other examples of measure are the following. The qualita- 
tive character of the constitution of a state depends to some 
extent on the size of its territory and population. The con- 
stitution of the Greek city-state cannot be reproduced unaltered 
in the huge territories of modern nations. The quality (pitch) 
of a musical tone depends upon the number of vibrations per 


second. Economy, increased beyond a certain measure, 
becomes avarice. Water, heated beyond a certain tempera- 
ture, changes its quality and becomes steam ; or cooled, 
becomes ice. Its quality, gaseous, liquid, or solid, depends 
upon the quantity of heat. 

235. What is present in all these cases is that quality in 
some way depends upon quantity. And this is the conception 
of measure. When quantity first came before us in the dia- 
lectic it appeared as totally indifferent to quality. It was 
defined as a determination wholly external to the being 
(quality) of the thing. It was that which could be increased 
or diminished without altering the quality of the thing. It 
was the other of quality, the not-quality. But now the dia- 
lectic has shown us that quality and quantity are no more 
utterly indifferent and independent than being and nothing 
proved to be. The one involves the other. Each taken 
separately is an abstraction. The concrete unity in which 
both are combined is measure, which means the interdepen- 
dence of quality and quantity. Hence Hegel's definition 
" Measure is the qualitative quantum." 1 

236. Measure, like other categories, is a definition of the 
Absolute. Hegel observes, " God, it has been said, is the 
measure of all things. It is this idea which forms the ground- 
note of many of the ancient Hebrew hymns, in which the 
glorification of God tends in the main to show that he has 
appointed to everything its bound : to the sea and the solid 
land, to the rivers and mountains ; also to the various kinds 
of plants and animals. To the religious sense of the Greeks 
the divinity of measure, especially in respect of social ethics, 
was represented by Nemesis. That conception implies a 
general theory that all human things, riches, honour, and 
power, as well as joy and pain, have their definite measure, 
the transgression of which brings ruin and destruction/ 1 2 
The point here is that what in general we may call success, 
if increased in quantity beyond a certain degree, changes its 
quality, and becomes disaster. This is clearly an example of 

1 Wal., Log., § 107. 

•Wal., Log., §\o 7 Z. 



237. The sphere of measure falls into three categories, viz. 
(1) the specific quantum, (2} the measureless, (3) the infinite of 
measure. 1 

A. The Specific Quantum 

238. Measure comes before us as the union of quality and 
quantity. But this unity is, in the first instance, only im- 
mediate. By 11 immediate " Hegel means here that there is no 
true mediation between quality and quantity. They have the 
appearance of referring to each other, of being dependent on 
each other, of mediating each other. But this mediation is 
only relative and half-hearted. There is no absolute de- 
pendence of the terms on one another, such as we find later 
in the sphere of essence, where positive and negative, cause 
and effect, etc., have each absolutely no meaning apart from 
its correlative. Quality and quantity have a certain loose 
dependence on each other, as we have seen in the examples 
already given ; but they are also relatively independent. 
Hence, says Hegel, they u are only in immediate unity. M 2 
Complete unity would mean that any change whatever in the 
quantity of a thing would be followed by a change of quality, 
and thus the two would be wholly interdependent, completely 
tied to each other. The present merely immediate unity 
means, on the contrary, that though to some extent quality 
depends upon quantity, yet quantity may vary as it pleases 
within certain limits without any effect upon quality. The 
connection between the two is loose instead of rigorous. There 
is a dependence, since quantity cannot vary beyond definite 
limits without altering quality. But this dependence is only 

1 No actual division of the sphere of measure into its separate categories 
is given in the Encyclopaedia. In the greater Logic there are thirteen 
categories of measure but this does not help us, because we are here follow- 
ing the Encyclopaedia. And as the division into categories is not clearly 
indicated, though obviously several categories are involved, the disentangle- 
ment of these categories from Hegel's compact paragraphs is a matter of 
some difficulty. Dr. McTaggart {Com., §94), proposes the division (1) 
specific quantum, (2) measureless, (3) the becoming of essence. But it 
seems to me that the third category is described in § 110 of the Encyclo- 
aedia. Hegel there gives it no name. I have accordingly, of necessity, 
ad to invent a name for it. Hence it appears here as the infinite of 

■Wal., Log., § 108. 


an 44 immediate unity," a loose connection, since within those 
limits quantity may wander about, up and down the scale, 
while the quality remains unaltered and so quite indifferent 
to it. Thus we get the conception of a certain definite quantum 
which constitutes a limit beyond which change of quality 
occurs. This is what is meant by specific quantum. 

The readiest example in nature of the specific quantum is 
found in the change of water into ice or steam. There is a 
certain specific quantum of temperature, namely 1 00° centi- 
grade, beyond which the quality of liquidity disappears. The 
quantum of temperature may vary as it pleases up to the 
limit of 100° without the quality undergoing any change. But 
beyond that limit the quality of liquidity suddenly disappears 
and the water becomes gaseous. Similarly the specific quan- 
tum for the change of water into ice is 0° centigrade. 

239. The deduction of the category of specific quantum is 
noteworthy because it is the first appearance of a type of 
deduction which is very common with Hegel, of which we 
shall see hereafter numerous examples, but the validity of 
which is, in the highest degree, doubtful. This type of de- 
duction always occurs at the thesis of a triad. It consists in 
pointing out that the particular notion or category concerned, 
being at the stage of the thesis, is 14 immediate " ; for the 
thesis of every triad is the phase of immediacy (143). Having 
pointed out that the notion or category is immediate Hegel 
then proceeds to deduce the characteristics of the thesis from 
this immediacy. In the present case the deduction consists 
in pointing out that measure must be, in the first instance, 
immediate. There is no special reason for this here. It 
merely follows from the general Hegelian principle that the 
thesis must be immediate (143). Immediacy involves absence 
of mediation or dependence, and so, independence, discon- 
nectedness, between the two terms involved, i.e. quantity and 
quality. It is doubtful whether this deduction is valid because 
the mere idea of disconnectedness in general hardly gives us 
the special kind of disconnectedness involved in the specific 
quantum. The deduction draws its plausibility only from the 
empirical examples, such as the change of water into steam. 



Without this illegitimate appeal to experience the deduction 
would break down. Yet Hegel frequently uses this type of 
deduction. For further examples see §§256, 280, 323, 
328, 351, 361, 369, 392, 419, 420, 450, 460, 472, 497, 498, 
511, 578, 639, 726 of this book. 

240. However, from specific quantum Hegel passes to 

5. The Measureless 

The deduction from specific quantum to the measureless is 
accomplished in the following way. What we have in specific 
quantum is this : that the existence of a certain quality is 
only possible if a certain quantitative limit is not exceeded. 
But quantity cannot be thus limited. Apart from all empirical 
considerations it has been shown to lie in the very notion of 
quantity that it not only does, but must, for ever extrude 
itself beyond itself (230), and beyond all limits. Hence in 
the sphere of measure, the specific quantum must be exceeded. 
Therefore the quality which depends upon it must disappear. 
In empirical examples, such as that of water, we know that a 
new quality succeeds the old, e,g. gaseousness succeeds 
liquidity. But we have not yet logically deduced this. All 
that the deduction of specific quantum gave us was, that 
in specific quantum we have the existence of a certain quality 
depending upon the non- transcendence of a quantitative limit ; 
but such a limit must be transcended because all quantitative 
limits must be ; therefore the quality must disappear. Thus 
we have before us again a free independent quantity with no 
quality attached to it. Since measure is the attachment of 
a quality to a quantity this new conception of a quantity 
which has completely left the quality behind, and become 
unattached to it, is called by Hegel the measureless. 

C. The Infinite of Measure 

241. We have now a free quantity. But we have seen that 
quantity cannot be thus free. Its indifference to quality has 
been shown to be a mere abstraction. It necessarily veers 
round again to quality. Mere quantity has shown itself in 
the dialectic to return to quality (233). This free quantity, 


the measureless, therefore must in turn become qualitative. 
It cannot subsist by itself. It falls back to quality, and be- 
comes again attached thereto. Its attachment to quality is 
again measure. Thus the measureless becomes measure. In 
the world of nature this is seen in the appearance of a new 
quality when the specific quantum has been exceeded. When 
water reaches 100° centigrade its liquidity disappears. This 
gives us the measureless, since the temperature may now vary 
indefinitely above 1 00° without being attached to the quality 
of liquidity. But the truth that the measureless again be- 
comes a measure is seen in the fact that a new quality, gaseous- 
ness, supervenes. Gaseousness is dependent upon the tem- 
perature-quantum not falling below 100°. And thus we 
have measure again. 

The measureless is thus itself measure. As measure it 
again becomes measureless. This new measureless again 
returns to measure, and so ad infinitum. Thus we have an 
infinite series, a spurious infinite, exactly parallel to the 
spurious infinites in the spheres of quality and quantity. In 
quality, the finite something became infinite other, and this 
again became finite something, and so on for ever. In 
quantity, the quantum overleaps its limit into indefinite 
quantity, which again becomes a quantum, and so on for ever. 
In measure, the measure becomes measureless, the measureless 
reverts to measure, and so on for ever. 

In quality and quantity the true infinite was reached by 
pointing out that the passage from something to an other 
something, or from quantum to the next quantum, was only 
a passage of the self-identical into itself, and consequently 
that in their return-to-self, this purely self-related movement, 
we have self-determination which is the true infinite. So here 
too, in the sphere of measure, the measure in passing into the 
measureless only passes into itself, for the measureless turns 
out to be itself a measure. This infinity, this being-for-self 
may be regarded as the true infinite of measure. 



242. The deduction of essence from the last phase of being 
is accomplished by the following reasoning. The infinite of 
measure, which we have now reached, is the absolute unity of 
quality and quantity. At the beginning of measure we saw 
that quality and quantity were there only loosely connected, 
that their unity was only relative, or, as Hegel called it, 
44 immediate." In the measureless, accordingly, quality and 
quantity fell apart again. For in the measureless quantity 
shook itself free of its attached quality. But now, since the 
measureless is itself measure (241), we see that this freeing 
of itself on the part of quantity was illusory. Quality and 
quantity cannot escape from each other. For the measureless, 
which is quantity freed from quality, again reverts to measure, 
which is the attachment of quality to quantity. The two 
factors, quality and quantity, are now therefore finally and 
firmly bound together. Hence we have reached the con- 
ception of the absolute unity of quality and quantity. Such a 
unity implies, further, that quality and quantity are identical. 
For quality turns into quantity (210) ; and quantity turns into 
quality again (233). Each, therefore, turns into, and is inter- 
changeable with, the other. They are identical. But the fact 
that they change into one another also involves that they are 
different. For the change of one thing into another thing 
implies that the second thing is different from the first. 
Otherwise there is no change (180, 185). 



Thus we have two factors, 

(1) The identity of quality and quantity. 

(2) Their difference. 

And this gives rise to the conception of two strata of being. 
The lower stratum is a self- identical, self-related, unchanging 
unity, a single permanent undifferentiated being. This is 
constituted by the identity of quality and quantity. The 
upper stratum is a diversified being, constituted by the 
difference of quality and quantity ; and this stratum is not 
an unchanging unity, but a diversity in which quality and 
quantity continually veer into each other. This doubled 
form of being is essence. 

243. It will readily be seen that, what we have here is the 
general conception of the sphere of essence. For it involves 
as it were two layers of being, an outer and an inner. The 
outer being is the sphere of difference, the inner being is the 
underlying identity which supports the difference. Being is 
no longer of one layer, as it has been so long as we considered 
things solely under the heads of quality, quantity, and measure. 
There is now a deeper, inner, essential being, and an outer 
rind or appearance. The deeper being is the essence, the 
outer rind is, in the first instance, regarded as untrue and 

Thus the main character of the sphere of essence in general 
is that everything is regarded in a double aspect. We no 
longer take the world at its face value. We distinguish be- 
tween what it essentially is, i.e. what it is in essence, and what 
it seems. We seek to probe into its inner being. Under the 
accidents we seek the substance. For every effect we demand 
to know the cause, and so on. All those categories which imply 
a dual nature, consisting of a being which supports and a 
being which is supported, come under the general head of 
essence, and involve the idea of an underlying substratum 
beneath the immediate being which is directly presented 
to us. 

244. Essence is the second term in the great triad, being, 
essence, the Notion, which occupies the whole Logic. Every 
conceivable phase of being has been passed in review, and now 



we enter the wholly new sphere of essence. Being, as the 
first term in the triad was the sphere of immediacy. Essence, 
as the second term, is the sphere of mediation. That being 
is the sphere of immediacy means that all its categories purport 
to stand alone, to be independent of one another, not mediated 
by one another. The category of being purports to subsist 
on its own account, and to ask no help from nothing. Limit 
has no special correlative on which it depends. Quality seems 
quite indifferent to quantity, and so on. That this supposed 
immediacy of the categories of being was an illusion, this it 
was the object of the doctrine of being to prove. The course 
of the dialectic consisted in showing that all these categories 
involve and depend on each other, that they are not cut off 
from each other, but indissolubly linked together, so that 
thought can pass along the links from one to the other. But 
this interdependence of the categories of being was only im- 
plicit, and had to be explicated. The connections were hidden 
and had to be revealed. Hence being was in general the 
sphere of immediacy. 

But in essence the categories explicitly mediate one another, 
and this is, therefore, the sphere of mediation. Instead of 
solitary categories, we have now categories which go in pairs, 
the members of which are indissolubly married, and are never 
found apart. They explicitly refer to one another. You can- 
not have a cause without an effect, or properties without a 
thing, substance without accidents, inner without outer, 
identity without difference, positive without negative. Each 
term is relative to its opposite. Essence is the sphere of 
universal relativity. 

The same thing may be expressed by saying that mind, 
while under the sway of the categories of being, takes im- 
mediate existence for the truth and reality of the world, 
whereas, when it has risen to the stage of essence, it looks 
behind the immediate presentation and seeks for reality in a 
deeper ground. This deeper ground is not immediate exist- 
ence but is what immediate existence points to as its source, 
and this source is therefore mediate. Qualities and quantities 
are just the aspects of the world which directly confront us 


and are immediately known. They are the categories which 
enter into perception. That a thing is red or big is immedi- 
ately perceived. But no one can perceive that a thing is a 
cause, or is a positive or a negative. The apprehension of this 
requires thought and comparison, and all thought and com- 
parison involve mediation. 

245. For this reason, too, essence is, in a special sense, 
the point of view of the understanding, whereas being was the 
point of view of simple apprehension. At the stage of being 
the mind seizes directly upon what is before it, takes that for 
a simple unity, an ultimate, independent, absolute being, and 
rests in that. But at the stage of essence the mind passes 
beyond the immediate being to a second term and seeks to 
apprehend the relation between the two. Formal Logic begins 
with the doctrine of terms. At that stage the mind simply 
seizes upon a single term, chair, man, table, and goes no 
further. This is simple apprehension and corresponds to the 
doctrine of being, in which each category is taken as a final 
independent isolated entity. Next in formal logic comes the 
treatment of propositions or judgments. Here the simple 
term splits into two terms related by the copula. Instead of 
the simple term, man, we have the judgment, man is mortal. 
Judgment, then, is the sundering of the previous unity into 
a diversity of related terms. This is the special work of the 
understanding, which is the faculty of judgment. This corre- 
sponds to the doctrine of essence, in which the simple unity of 
being has become double. We have no longer single cate- 
gories but pairs of categories which are distinct and yet 
related, bound together like the terms in a proposition. 

Understanding, we have said, is the sphere of distinctions 
and differences. Hence the categories of essence are the 
special instruments of science in its attempt to cognize the 
world. Its work is to make distinctions, to insist upon de- 
finitions and boundaries, to enforce precision, to arrange all 
things in their proper classes, and to trace the relations be- 
tween things. That essence is the sphere of relativity, that 
its categories are all categories of relation, makes it in this 
last respect too the special instrument of science. 


246. It is for this reason, too, that science is traditionally 
apt to be sceptical in religious matters. Since essence is the 
stage of mentality at which it has arrived, and since essence 
has universal relativity for its principle, science therefore is 
prone to insist upon the relativity of all knowledge and the 
consequent impossibility of cognizing the Absolute or God. 
This supposed impossibility arises solely from the exclusive 
use of the categories of essence. All knowledge which can be 
obtained by means of these categories is relative. Truly to 
cognize the Absolute is only possible when essence has been 
transcended by the categories of the Notion, which are the 
categories both of religion and philosophy. 

247. Since essence is the second term in the great triad of 
the Logic we should naturally expect it to be the opposite of 
the first term, being. And such is in fact the case. The 
essential characteristic of being is immediacy, of essence 
mediacy. And as being is single, so essence is double. 
Essence is formed by being going out of itself into its other. 
It has passed over into otherness and is here the double of 
itself, has come outside itself. Lastly essence comes before us, 
in the first instance, as the annulment and negation of im- 
mediacy, that is of being. Being is what is there, directly 
presented to us. Essence is precisely what is not there, not 
present, but only indicated as the negative source of what is 

248. Essence is a definition of the Absolute. The Absolute 
is the essence of the world. It is the veiled being that lies 
behind the world as its unseen source. Essence is especially 
the unseen ; for what is seen is the immediate. The Absolute, 
regarded as essence, is the substratum, the underlying unity, 
the self- identical one, which manifests itself in the diversity 
and multiplicity of the phenomenal world. That the Absolute 
is essence is the definition given by Hinduism, and by oriental 
thought generally. For Hinduism has not yet reached the only 
adequate definition of the Absolute as the Idea, the definition, 
that is, given by the categories of the Notion. 

The Absolute is often described, too, under one or other of 
the particular categories of essence. It is conceived as the 



first cause of the world (category of causality), or as a force 
underlying phenomena (category of force and the expression 
of force) or, in Spinoza's philosophy, as substance (category of 
substance), or, by orientals, as the One (category of identity). 
All these definitions are true, in the sense that they are phases 
or moments of the truth. But all are false in so far as they 
are inadequate. For the categories of essence are superseded 
by those of the Notion which alone are adequate to express 
the truth about God. As compared with the concreteness of 
the Notion, essence is a mere abstraction, which is incapable 
of holding within itself the full riches of the divine being. 

249. We have seen that in essence we have two strata of 
being. The essence is the underlying stratum, the deeper 
and inner reality. The other stratum is that of immediate 
being, appearance, the phenomenal world, which is the mani- 
festation of this essence. In the first instance, then, the 
correlatives come before us as essence and the unessential. 
The latter is a mere show, a seeming, a hollow appearance, a 
nullity. This however turns out to be a mistake. For the 
truth is not merely that the unessential depends upon the 
essence. The essence equally depends upon the unessential. 
And therefore the unessential is just as essential as the essence. 
The essence is no doubt the source of the being of the un- 
essential. But were there no unessential, the essence could 
not be the source of it, and so could not be essence. If essence 
is to be essence, there must be a something of which it is the 
essence. Destroy the something and you equally destroy the 
essence. Therefore the essence depends upon the unessential 
just as much as the unessential depends upon the essence. 
The effect no doubt depends upon the cause. But were there 
no effect there could be no cause. The negative refers to the 
positive, but the positive equally refers to the negative. The 
dependence between the terms is not one-sided, but mutual. 

This mutual dependence of the terms on each other is called 
by Hegel reflection. 1 In the sphere of being we have seen the 
relation of dependence, but not of mutual dependence. The 
something has its being in an qther, and that in another other, 

1 An analogy from fi£htr 


and so on. A depends on B, which depends on C, etc. But 
here A depends on B, and B depends on A. And this absolute 
dependence of the terms of thought upon each other, this 
universal relativity, is also the standpoint of reflection, in the 
sense of reflective thought. 

250. The doctrine of essence falls into the three spheres of 
(i) essence as ground of existence, (2) appearance, and (3) 



251. Essence as ground of existence has three phases, (i) the 
pure principles or categories of reflection, (2) existence, (3) the 



252. These pure categories of reflection are (a) identity, 
(b) difference, (c) the ground. They are called principles of 
reflection, because identity and difference are the two essential 
principles which understanding, or reflection, enforces. That 
what is identical is identical, and that what is different is 
different, this is the point of view of the understanding. The 
ground also finds its place here, because, as we shall see, it is 
the unity of identity and difference. We now proceed to the 
deduction of these categories. 

Sub-Section I 


253. The two sides of essence come before us in the first 
instance, as essence and the unessential. But this, as was 
pointed out, is erroneous. The unessential is just as essential 
as the essence (249). Hence the unessential, as being 
essential, is itself essence. Not only does B depend upon A, 



but A equally depends upon B. The relation of A to B is 
identical with the relation of B to A. Hence what is on one 
side of the relation is identical with what is on the other. 
Either side may be taken as essence indifferently. The two 
sides are not two things, but there is one and the same thing 
which is now taken as essence, now as appearance. It is the 
essence that appears, and not anything else, and hence the 
appearance is the essence. 

This perfect equality between the two sides of the relation 
gives us the category of identity. For essence is only essence 
by virtue of its relation to appearance. But the appearance 
is the essence. Therefore the relation of the essence to the 
appearance is only the relation of the essence to itself. Hence 
essence is only essence by virtue of this its self-relatedness. 
Essence therefore is self- relation, and self- relation is identity. 
To be related only to self is to be self-identical. 

254. If the essence be called A, and the appearance B, then 
the relation between them is that of A to B. But since B, 
the appearance, is itself the essence, A, this relation is properly 
only the relation of A to A, and this is the relation of identity. 

Expressed as a proposition this relation becomes A is A, 
which is the so-called logical law of identity. According to 
Hegel, the law of contradiction is the same as the law of 
identity ; only in the former it is negatively expressed. In 
its positive form we have the law of identity, A is A. The 
same thought, put negatively, is, A is not not-A, or A cannot 
at the same time be A and not-A, and this is the law of con- 

Since Hegel is popularly supposed to have 11 denied " the 
laws of thought, it may be useful to quote here what he 
actually does say. 11 It is asserted that the maxim of identity, 
though it cannot be proved, regulates the procedure of every 
consciousness, and that, experience shows it to be accepted as 
soon as it is apprehended. To this alleged experience of the 
logic-books may be opposed the universal experience that no 
mind thinks or forms conceptions or speaks, in accordance 
with this law, and that no existence of any kind whatever 
conforms to it. Utterances after the fashion of this pretended 


law (A planet is a planet : magnetism is magnetism : mind 
is mind) are, as they deserve to be, reputed silly." 1 

Hegel's point is, not that this so-called law is false, but 
that it is a one-sided abstraction. The category at which we 
have arrived is that of abstract identity, i.e. identity which 
excludes difference. The next category, as we shall see, will 
be abstract difference, i.e. difference which excludes identity. 
As the first and second members of a triad respectively, each 
of these is an abstraction which will be shown to have no 
meaning without the other. The concrete truth will only be 
found in the synthesis of the two, the unity of identity and 
difference, which appears in the category of the ground. The 
laws of thought, however, express only abstract identity and 
abstract difference, and are therefore not false or simply un- 
true, but 4< silly/' because one side of the truth means nothing 
without the other. And Hegel points out in the passage 
quoted that even ordinary propositions contain more than the 
abstractions A is A, a man is a man, etc. Ordinary proposi- 
tions in fact contain the concrete truth. They do not take 
the form A is A, but rather the form A is B (e.g. man is mortal). 
This implies both identity and difference in combination, not 
the abstract separation of them as expressed in the so-called 
laws of thought. For to say A is B implies, firstly, that A 
and B are different things (man is not the same as mortal) ; 
and secondly that they are the same, since the identification 
of the one with the other is precisely what it is the object of 
the proposition to express. 

Sub-Section II 


255. The deduction of difference from identity is accom- 
plished as follows. Identity is the relation of essence to 
itself. But in thus relating itself to itself it thereby dis- 
tinguishes itself from itself. The self-relation is a negative 
self-relation (208), i.e. the self negates and repels itself from 
itself. A relation implies at least two terms between which 
*Wal., Log.. § 115. 


< ' (< ■ ./.-.- ' - 
the relation subsists. In the present case the term relates 

itself to itself. The first " itself " which is related is different 
from the second 41 itself " to which it is related. If there 
were not this inner distinction then there could be no relation. 
If we express identity in the form A is A, then the A which 
is subject is different from the A which is predicate. Hence 
identity necessarily involves difference. The reasoning 
involved in this deduction is really the same as that by which 
the many was deduced from the one (208). 

256. Difference, however, is internally divided into three 
categories or phases. Its first phase is 

A. Variety 

which is also called diversity. For in accordance with the 
general principle that the first member of a triad is an im- 
mediacy, difference, in its first phase, is immediate difference. 
This means that the differents do not, at this stage, fully 
mediate one another, are not dependent on one another, but 
are only loosely connected or indifferent to one another. 
Where a number of things are all different from each other 
without standing to each other in any specific relation of 
opposition we have variety. 1 For example, a pencil is 
different from a camel. But there is no specific relation of 
opposition. A pencil is not the opposite of a camel ; it is 
merely different, and this is variety. Light and darkness, on 
the other hand, are opposites. They are positive and negative. 
And this is contrariety as distinguished from mere variety. 
Contrariety is a category which has not yet appeared and which 
will be deduced very shortly. But we may by anticipation 
here distinguish it from variety in order to make the con- 
ception of variety clearer. True opposites mediate each other. 
The positive and negative depend on each other. Each is 
defined precisely as the opposite of the other. But things 
which are merely different, i.e. exhibit variety, have no such 
definite relationship. Each is what it is without reference to 
the other. A pencil is different from a camel, but so is a 
house, a cigarette, a battle, a star, a trumpet, or anything 
1 See § 239 above. 


else in the universe. But in the relation of contrariety, each 
thing has, not an indefinite number of things opposed to it, 
but only one thing, one opposite, its opposite. Thus the only 
opposite of light is darkness. And since things which exhibit 
mere variety, stand in no essential relation to each other, are 
indifferent to each other, and do not depend on each other, 
hence they do not mediate each other, but are " immediate." 
For this reason, difference, in its first phase, as immediate 
difference, is variety. 

B. Likeness and Unlikeness 

257. The differents, then, are indifferent to one another. 
Each is what it is on its own account, and its nature is quite 
unaffected by its relation to the other. Therefore the relation 
between them is not in the things themselves but is external 
to them. It is otherwise with positive and negative, with true 
opposites. Here the relation of one opposite to its other is 
contained in the very notion and definition of each term. 
The positive only is what it is by not being the negative. 
Its relation to the negative is part of its own nature, is in- 
ternal to it. But in variety the relation is not part of the 
nature of each term, for each term is what it is without refer- 
ence to the others, and this relation, therefore, is external to it. 
This means that if the terms be A and B, then the relation 
cannot be found either in A itself, or in B itself. It can only 
be found by externally comparing them. Such external rela- 
tions are called likeness and unlikeness. If we say that 
A and B are alike, we shall not expect to find this likeness in 
the nature of A alone, or in the nature of B alone, but only 
by comparison of the two. A zebra and a horse are different 
(unlike) yet alike. Yet a zebra is what it is without any 
reference to the horse, and even if no horse existed in the 
universe. Hence its quality of being " like a horse '* is no 
part of its own being, but is external to it. 

The relation between true opposites is internal to the 
opposites themselves. But because things which are merely 
various are indifferent to one another, i.e. are what they are 
independently of the others, therefore variety gives us an 


external relation between the things. And such external 
relation is likeness and unlikeness. Likeness is an identity of 
things which are different. And unlikeness is difference. 

258. From likeness and unlikeness is deduced the last phase 
of difference, which is 

C. Positive and Negative 

or the relation of contrariety. Whereas in variety we had 
merely the relation of a thing to any other, and to any number 
of others, so that a pen, a camel, a circle, a hair-brush, and a 
tadpole, are all indifferently regarded as various from each 
other, in contrariety, on the other hand, a thing is regarded 
as having its own special other, which is its opposite. Differ- 
ence was, in its first phase, i.e. variety, mere difference. Now 
in its final phase as contrariety, it is specific difference. It is 
the positive and negative. Light and darkness, North and 
South, cold and warm, are examples. 

But in what way is this new category deduced from the 
last ? The last category was likeness and unlikeness. Now 
likeness is identity. And unlikeness is difference. But we 
have seen that identity involves difference, and that difference 
involves identity (255). There cannot be the one without 
the other. Therefore likeness involves unlikeness, and un- 
likeness involves likeness. They are completely bound together 
and interdependent. The relation between them is that of 
" reflection," i.e. mutual dependence the one on the other 
(249). But at the same time likeness and unlikeness are 
different from one another. Hence we have here a kind of 
difference, viz. the difference between likeness and unlikeness, 
in which the two terms are firmly bound together in a complete 
and mutual dependence on each other. In variety the terms 
were only loosely connected, or indifferent to each other. 
Variety was immediate difference. But here we have a kind 
of difference in which the two terms completely mediate each 
other, in which each is wholly dependent upon, and relative to, 
the other. Such difference, as already explained, is con- 
trariety, or positive and negative. 

259. It may be objected that this argument begins with an 


error. It begins by saying : " Likeness is identity. And un- 
likeness is difference.' * That is its first premiss. And to this 
it may be objected that likeness is not mere identity, since 
things which are alike are always different, always unlike, 
and that unlikeness is not mere difference, since things which 
are unlike must also be, in some respects, alike ; for if not, 
we could not compare them. Thus a zebra is like a horse, 
but it is also, in other aspects, unlike it. A star is unlike 
a camel, but they are alike at least in this respect that they 
are both material things, and if this were not so we could 
not compare them or say that they are unlike. 

But to argue thus is simply to play Hegel's game for him. 
This is precisely his own point. The deduction begins by 
saying that likeness is identity. But no sooner is this examined 
than it is seen that, since identity involves difference, it in- 
volves unlikeness. And it is precisely on this assertion of the 
unthinkability of likeness and unlikeness without each other 
that the whole deduction turns. The argument means that 
bare likeness, taken in abstraction from unlikeness is the same 
as bare identity, taken in abstraction from difference ; and 
similarly that bare abstract unlikeness is the same as bare 
abstract difference. And since these bare abstractions of 
identity and difference have been shown to be false; since 
identity and difference cannot be separated, but involve each 
other ; in the same way likeness is an abstraction if separated 
from unlikeness. And since the two cannot be separated, 
since each depends on the other as its other, we have the 
relation of specific difference, opposition or contrariety. 

We began with variety, which is immediate difference. We 
end with contrariety in which mediation and interdependence 
are fully developed. Contrariety, therefore, is the final and 
perfected form of difference, and we pass now from the sphere 
of difference to that of ground. 


Sub-Section III 


260. The ground is the synthesis of the triad, identity, 
difference, and ground. We have now to explain how this 
category is deduced, and what it means. 

The positive and the negative, at which we have arrived, 
each depend wholly upon the other. The positive is positive 
only in reference to the negative. The negative is negative 
only as against the positive. And since they thus bear to 
each other identically the same relation, therefore the one may 
be substituted tot the other. The positive is just as much 
negative ; and the negative is just as much positive. We may 
regard the North as positive, in which case the South is negative. 
But we may equally regard the South as positive, in which case 
the North is negative. Light is usually regarded as positive 
and darkness as negative. And here it might seem that the 
two cannot be transposed. But this is because the sensations 
(consciousness) of light and darkness are usually confused 
with the vibration and absence of vibration which are 
supposed to be their respective causes. But the conscious- 
ness of darkness is just as much positive as that of light. 
And darkness may therefore quite legitimately be regarded 
as the positive of which light is the negative. Or even if 
we reduce light to vibrations, even so rest (absence of 
vibration) may be looked on as the positive of which motion 
(vibration) is the negative. 

Hence the positive is the negative, and the negative is the 
positive. Each is the same thing, namely, absolute depen- 
dence on the other. This absolute dependence on the other 
is the idea of ground. Because the negative depends wholly 
on the positive, therefore the positive is the ground of the 
negative. Similarly the negative is the ground of the positive. 
Each, therefore, is equally the ground. The distinction be- 
tween them collapses. And their identity is the ground. 

261. Now, in the course of the dialectic, identity became 
likeness, and difference became unlikeness. Likeness, in its 


turn, became the positive, and unlikeness became the negative. 
Hence the positive is identity, and the negative is difference. 
Identity is relation of self to self (253), which thus affirms 
itself and is positive. Difference is the distinction of self from 
self which subsists within this self-to-self relation (255), and it is 
thus the negating of itself by itself, and so is negative. There- 
fore the ground, which is the unity into which the positive 
and negative collapse, is at the same time the unity of identity 
and difference. Thus it justifies its position of arising at 
this point as the synthesis of the triad, identity, difference, 


262. The ground is a unity within which, however, there is 
distinction. For if there is a ground there must be also some- 
thing which is grounded. That anything is the ground implies 
that there must be something of which it is the ground. Thus 
the positive may be regarded as the ground, in which case 
the negative is the grounded. But since the positive and the 
negative are interchangeable and identical, therefore in the 
same way the ground is identical with the grounded. There is 
no distinction between the two. The grounded is its own 
ground. Or suppose we say that A is the ground, B the 
grounded. Now the category of ground has only arisen as 
the unity of positive and negative, in which each side was 
shown to be grounded in the other. Hence if A is the ground 
of B, B is equally the ground of A. But if A is grounded on 
B, and B in its turn is grounded on A, this is equivalent to 
saying that A is ultimately grounded on A. And similarly 
B is grounded on B. Or, as we said, the grounded is its 
own ground. 

Thus the category of ground turns out to be empty and 
useless. It gives, as the explanation, or ground, of a thing, 
only that very same thing over again. It explains a thing by 
saying 41 it is so because it is. 1 ' We see examples of this 
frequently. Lightning is explained as being due to electricity. 


But to put electricity as the ground of lightning is only to 
put lightning as the ground of itself. Or the kind of actions 
a man performs are explained as being due to the kind of 
character he possesses. But his character is nothing but the 
kind of actions he performs merely expressed differently as 
an inward instead of an outward being. Or again, that I am 
able to think is sometimes explained by saying that I possess 
the " faculty " of thought. But the " faculty " of thought is 
only another name for the fact that I think. 

Thus the grounded is its own ground. The two are identical. 
Hence the mediation between the two sides disappears, and 
we have before us an immediacy. The grounded, regarded as 
an im mediacy, as what is immediat ely present and there, is 
existence! The ground ed is an e xistent. But the grou ii'dTs 
identic al with the grounded. Hence the ground is itself an- 
other existent. Therefore we have befor e us the conception of 
a number of existents which reciprocally determine each othej r 
as ground and gro unded. " Kxistftnre is the indefinite multi- 
tude of existents as reflected-into- themselves " — i.e. as the 
groundeds which are their own grounds — 41 which at the same 
time equally throw light upon one another " — i.e. as having 
their grounds in one another — 44 which, in short, are co-relative, 
and form a w orld of reciprocal dependence and of in finite 
in terconnections between g rounds anrj rnq.Qpqnfinfg The 
grounds are themselves existences : and the existents in like 
manner are in many directions grounds as well as conse- 
quents." 1 

263. A beginner is sometimes puzzled to understand the 
difference between the category of being and that of existence. 
The difference has already been to some extent explained (184). 
But it will now be clearer. Hegel uses the word existence to 
signify that ^thingjspart of the universe, i.e. is in correlation 
with all other existent things and lorms part of the system or 
network of relations which we Call the universe. Existence is 
not merely being. It is grounded being. For each existent 
has its ground in another existent, which in turn is grounded 
in a third existent, and so on. This is a much more com- 
* Wal., Log., § 123. 


plicated and advanced idea than the empty abstraction of 
being with which the Logic began. Being was completely 
indeterminate. Existence is determined by grounds. As 
being a complex concrete idea existence, therefore, rightly 
comes later in the dialectic than mere abstract being. 
The next step in the dialectic is from existence to thing. 


264. From the beginning of the doctrine of essence we have, 
in the last resort, been dealing solely with the implications 
of two concepts which imply each other. These are (1) 
relation to self, and (2) relation to other. These two concepts 
have formed the two sides of every pair of categories that have 
come before us. The relation of self to self gave us the cate- 
gory of identity. But since such a relation also involves the 
distinction of self from self, this excluding relation, which is 
in fact relation to other, gave us difference. The like was the 
side of identity, self-to-self relation, and this in turn became 
the positive. The unlike was the side of difference, or relation 
to other, which in turn became the negative. The relation of 
self-to-self next became the ground, while relation to other 
became the grounded. The ground and the grounded collapsed 
together into the immediate unity of existence. 

Existence, therefore, contains both sides of the relation. 
The r elation of self to self Hegel calls " reflection-into-self," 
and the rejarton to other- hg calls " r eflectl«^-lnto-anot "rler. ,, 
Hence " existence is the i rnnifiriiatg unity n f reflection-into-sel f 
a nd reflection-i ritP-^^hfir " 1 Each existent then contains 
these tw o factor s. T he first, that of re flect ion-into-self means 
t hat the~ ^v^t^ n r stands nn nwn basis, as a srtahU^ self- 
id entical b£ ing 1 , which i o indepcnd en4^£jCLther existents. and 
is what it is, in its own right, apart alto gether from^eni^ 
The secondjactoi^lhat -reflect innIint<^aaoth^ 
the existent is depende nt on others. Now when an existent 

1 Wal.. Log., § 123. 


is regarded in this double aspect it is then what we call a 
thing. This will be explained in the next paragraph. 

Hence in the sphere of thing the first category is the thing 
and its properties. 

Sub-Section I 


265. For to call anything a thing means that it has a certain 
self-subsistence, even substantiality. If we analyze the popu- 
lar conception of existence we find that according to it the 
universe consists of (1) things, which are bound into a network 
of (2) relations. Popular thought regards the thing as some- 
thing which has a substantial existence apart from the rela- 
tions. In order that there may be relations, we say, there 
must be "things " to be related. Mere relations cannot 
subsist by themselves, and the universe cannot be composed 
merely of relations. The 41 thing n taken apart from its 
relations is something independent of other things. Apart 
from all other things and its relations to them, it is what it is 
in its own self. This is exactly the Hegelian idea of reflection- 
into-self, — the independent, the self-identical. The second 
element, reflection-into-another, gives the thing's relation to 
other things ; and they are its properties. 

266. This conception of a property needs a little further 
elucidation. In the doctrine of being we have already dealt 
with the categories of quality. And it is natural to ask whether 
a property is not the same thing as a quality. If so we have 
nothing new here except a new name. And in that case the 
dialectic is to that extent unsatisfactory, for since the later 
categories are supposed to be more concrete and of higher 
truth than the lower, it follows that a category once superseded 
cannot reappear at a later stage of the dialectic, even if it is 
concealed under a new name. 

Quality , however, is not the same as property . The some- 
thing has a quality or more properly ts a quality. For it was 
an essential in the doctrine of being that quality was _ a_de- 
termination. which was identic al with the bein g itsel f (186). 


Here, however, the prope rty is not ide ntical with th e thing. 
The thing has a p roperty. And this is indicated by the dia- 
lectical origin oT~property a s ceflection-into-another . This 
indicates that the property is not part^ oLihft thinfl itsplf Jaut 
is rather i ts influence on other things and its capa city of being 
influenced by thenT For example, water rusts iron. It is a 
property of water to have that influence on iron. It is a 
property of iron to be influenced in that way by water. This 
mutual relationship of water and iron is^ jheir " reflection,^ 
mutual dependence (249), on one another. And this is what 
is meant by property. This is a far more complex notion 
than that of abstract quality, which is identical with the being 
in such a way that if the quality disappears the being dis- 
appears with it. 

Objection may be made that it is impossible to distinguish 
quality and property in this way. Thus the being of red light 
consists simply and solely in its redness. Redness is a quality. 
But it may also be looked on as a property since it involves 
the influence of the light upon the eye. The answer is that 
every quality may certainly be regarded as a property, but 
that this involves a new point of view and the application of a 
new and more concrete category. It is of the very essence of 
the dialectic that one category turns into another, that what 
is at first regarded under an abstract category not only may, 
but must, come to be regarded under a more concrete category. 
What is now regarded as being must next be thought of as 
essence, and finally it turns out that the Notion is the only 
category that truly describes it. In just the same way a 
quality, such as redness, not only may but must come to be 
regarded, in the course of the dialectic, as a property. So that 
the mere fact that there is no quality of a thing which cannot 
also be regarded as a property is no proof that quality and 
property are the same category. 


Sub-Section II 


267. We are no\> at the stage of the thing and its pro- 
perties. The thing regarded abstractly is reflection-into-self. 
The properties regarded abstractly are the reflection-into- 
another. But reflection-into-self and reflection-into-another 
cannot be regarded thus abstractly. Each involves the other. 
Each is the other as well as itself. For reflection-into-self is 
simply self- identity, the relation of self to self ; and such 
self-relation equally contains the distinction of self from self, 
difference (208), reflectior-into-another. Hence the property 
now becomes reflection-into-self and the thing reflection-into- 
another. So that the thing and its properties change places 
with each other in all respects. It is now the property, and not 
the thing, which is self-identical, independent. Formerly the 
thing was that which is what it is, the " in itself,'* the self- 
identical, the inner being, the essence ; whereas the properties 
were the outer being, the inessential. But now the property is 
the self- identical, independent, inner being, the essence. The 
property had no existence apart from the thing in which it 
inhered. The thing alone had independent existence. But 
now the property has become a thing, i.e. an independent 
existence. Hence the properties are no longer to be regarded 
as merely inhering in the thing. They are themselves solid 
independent beings out of which the thing is composed. They 
are the mate 'ils out of which the thing is made up. The 
properties have thus ceased to be properties and have become 

268. It is very difficult to understand what Hegel means by 
matters here. He says that the matters into which the pro- 
perties have turned, are independent, and relieved from their 
attachment to the thing. But they are still spoken of as 
" characters of the thing," 1 and it is said that 14 they are not 
themselves things." 2 They are " entities." 3 The abstract 
idea and its deduction from property are clear and intelligible. 

1 Wal., Log., § 126. » Ibid. 8 Ibid. 


But when we look for examples in the outer world we find that 
Hegel talks about magnetic and electric matters, caloric 
matters, odorific matters, and the like. One can see that 
magnetism, heat, etc., can be regarded as (i) properties of 
things, and then (2) semi-independent 44 entities " which are 
yet not 44 things. 1 ' But the conception does not seem happy. 
There is a passage in the Phenomenology where this conception 
of free 44 matters M is mentioned, and Mr. J. B. Baillie appends 
to the word 14 matters " a footnote to the effect that it is an 
expression drawn from the physics of Hegel's day. 1 Appar- 
ently Hegel mistook an ephemeral and now forgotten scientific 
conception of his own time for an eternal and necessary cate- 
gory. In any case this category is not the mere idea of 
physical matter. So far as I can see, the view which regards 
mind as a compound of cognitions, volitions, and emotions, is 
an example of the use of the category of the thing and matters. 
Volition, for example, is first a property of mind. The mind 
wills. But regarded as a semi-independent " entity " volition 
is one of the constituents, faculties, or 44 matters," which make 
up mind. To regard mind in this way is of course to apply 
a wholly inadequate category to it. But if we do, rightly or 
wrongly, regard the mind in this way we are applying ihe 
category of thing and matters. Thus this category has nothing 
to do with physical matter. To deduce such matter would be 
wholly out of place in the Logic, which deals only with pure 
universals. Physical matter is a sensuous universal and its 
proper place is in the philosophy of nature, and it is there, 
in point of fact, that Hegel deduces it. 

Sub-Section III 

269. The matters treated in the last sub-section were differ- 
ent from each other. There were many matters each distinct 
from the others. For the multiplicity of distinct matters arises 
from the previous multiplicity of different properties which 

1 Phen. t i. 115. 


belong to the same thing. But if we examine this conception 
we find that the distinctions between the different matters 
vanish, and that they all coalesce into one matter. The p ro- 
pert y rftflftrtion-into-annf^r^ But this was transformed 
into refl ection-into-self, and when that happ ened the p roperty 
bec^im£kmatteT: Each matter, then, is an abstract reflection - 
i nto-self . This is the samg _as Hf-Hati^", i e if i g ^Hcfra^f 
identit y withou t difference. Difference then is excluded from 
the matters. J There is no distinction betwe en them. There 
is only one matter 

Since the one matter has no distinctions of any ki nd within 
it^ it is therefore absolutely undetermiried^featurel ess, charac - 
terl ess. For determination and character are only possible 
through limitation, distinction, and difference. 

And just as the matters are the side of abstract identity, 
and therefore become one featureless matter, so the tkj&g, as- 
constituted by matters, i s now the_side of r eflertinn-intn- 
a nother, j^ g. ot distinction and difference. All disti nction , 
a nd therefore all determination and character, therefore fall on 
the side of the thing and are excluded from the matter. 

Thereupon the thing becomes form. For form, as here 
understood, is trTe^jrrinci ple h y whi>h 'distinctions, outline, 
character, definition^ determination are imp osed upon the 
f eatureless inde terminate matter. Thus we arrive at matter 
and form. 

270. This Hegelian conception of matter and form is simply 
the Greek conception. Matter is not the matter of the physi- 
cist, for this latter is already formed matter, such as iron, water, 
or lead. Matter here is rather the Greek vXrj, or a7retpov ) the 
boundless, the indefinite, featureless, formless substrate of 
things, common to Anaximander, Pythagoras, Plato and 
Aristotle. Form, on the other hand, is not merely shape, as 
in the modern sense ; it is the totality of all the characters, 
the principle of differentiation by which the airzipov becomes 
limited and defined into a this or that particular sort of thing. 
It is the eWop or popipti of Aristotle. 



271. The transition from essence as the ground of existence 
to appearance occurs as follows. The thing has, so to speak, 
fallen into two halves, matter and form. But now it appears 
that each half is the whole and contains the other. Form 
includes the whole of matter, and matter includes the whole 
of form. For matter is the empty self-identical ; it is the 
reflection-into-self of the thing. Form, on the other hand, is 
the reflection-into-another of the thing. But reflection-into- 
another is interchangeable with reflection-into-self (267). 
Therefore, form, as reflection-into-another, is at the same time 
reflection-into-self, i.e. it is matter. And matter, as reflection- 
in-self, is at the same time reflection-into-another, i.e. it is 
form. Thus the form is the whole thing, for it includes the 
matter ; and the matter is the whole thing, for it includes 
the form. 

Thus the thing is a contradiction. On the one hand it is 
wholly matter, i.e. reflection-into-self, and as such is wholly 
independent of all else, stands in its own rights as a self- 
subsistent existence. On the other hand it is wholly form, 
i.e. reflection-into-another, and as such is wholly dependent 
on another. It is thus an existence whose very independence 
annuls itself and turns out to be dependence. Existence so 
conceived is appearance. 

272. That this definition of appearance is the true one will 
appear if we illustrate it more concretely. We are familiar 
with the thought that the sense-world is an appearance. This, 
however, is a comparatively advanced philosophical concep- 




tion. The sense-world does not come before us in the first 
instance as an appearance. On the contrary it purports to be 
wholly self-subsistent and substantial. The solid rock, it 
seems, is something ultimate and absolute, resting wholly in 
itself. This is the point of view of unreflective consciousness 
which takes the rock for something absolute. But with the 
advance of philosophical thought the mind comes to see that 
this independence and self-subsistence is at the same time 
wholly dependent on something else, i.e. upon the absolute 
reality, and that it is simply the appearance of that. 

It is important to realize that the thing considered as 
appearance is a contradiction. It is something which, to use 
Hegel's phrase, " sets itself aside." It is not mere dependence 
on another. To say that the thing has no being of its own 
but wholly depends on another, would not involve it in any 
contradiction, but it would deprive the thing of any reality 
whatever ; it would mean that it is utterly empty and void, 
has no being at all, is merely a show, an abstract nullity. This 
is not the Hegelian conception of appearance. The thing is 
not merely dependence — reflection-into-another. It is at the 
same time independent, a subsistence, — reflection-into-self. 
It is thus a contradiction. It is an independent which sets 
its own independence aside and makes itself a dependent. To 
regard the world as an appearance is to attribute to it an inner 
contradiction. And in point of fact, though Hegel does not 
mention it in this connection, this has always been the view 
of those philosophies which looked upon the world as appear- 
ance. Zeno the Eleatic sought to show that the world of 
sense is an explicit self-contradiction, and that consequently 
it is an appearance. Kant adopted similar reasoning. 

273. Appearance is thus the contradiction of a reflection- 
into-self which is at the same time reflection-into-another. 
This identity of reflection-into-self with reflection-into-another 
gives us the important conclusion that the appearance is 
identical with the inner being, or essence, which appears. 
The reflection-into-self is the essence, the inner being. The 
reflection-into-another is the appearance, the outer being. But 
these two are identical. Thus the appearance is not a mere 


emptiness, an unreality, a nullity. For it is the essence. 
Essence and appearance are not two things, but one. It is 
the same thing put twice, now as essence and now as appear- 
ance. It is the essence itself which appears. 

This is a deeper thought than the common antithesis of 
appearance and reality, according to which the outer being is 
a merely illusory nothingness, while the inner being alone is 
real. The Indian describes the world as Maya, mere nothing, 
non-entity. For Hegel the world is likewise appearance, but 
the appearance is the essence ; i.e. it is not less essential than 
the essence itself. This means that it is essential for the 
essence to appear ; it is its very nature to appear. But in 
Indian thought it is impossible to conceive why Brahman 
should manifest himself. For this type of thought the essence 
and the appearance fall apart, as two quite different things, 
between which there is no real connection. For Hegel the 
essence and the appearance are identical, in spite of their 
difference. The essence has its very being in the appearance ; 
it must pass into appearance. It is this conception then at 
which we have now arrived, and of which we must keep 
fast hold. 


274. What was formerly a thing has now become an appear- 
ance or phenomenon, that is, a thing whose independent 
existence is contradicted and set aside by its thorough-going 
dependence. The thing was composed of matter and form. 
The matter, as the reflection-into-self, was the inner being, or 
essence of the thing. The form was the reflection-into-another, 
the outer being. It is the side of reflection-into-another, 
dependence on another, which now constitutes the phenomen- 
ality of the thing. Hence it is the form which now becomes 
appearance, the matter being regarded as essence. But we 
have seen that the form embraces in itself the matter, and 
that the matter is itself part of the form (271). Hence the 
essence or ground of the phenomenon, i.e. the matter, is 



equally to be regarded as form, or as part of the form. But 
form is phenomenon. Therefore the phenomenon has its 
ground in what is phenomenal, i.e. in another phenomenon. 
This again has its ground in another, and so on. Thus we 
get a multiplicity of phenomena, all linked and connected 
together, and dependent upon each other. The totality of 
these phenomena is the world of appearance. 

275. In dealing with the category of matter and form we 
pointed out that it is not to be supposed that what is there 
deduced is physical matter. A similar word of warning is 
necessary here. Hegel here introduces the word 11 wo rid.' ' 
But it must not be imagined that he has deduced the external 
universe. Such a deduction finds its proper place in the 
philosophy of nature. The Logic deals only with pure 
thoughts. What is here deduced is not the world itself but 
the phenomenality of the world. The two elements of the 
present category are (1) phenomenality, and (2) the systematic 
interconnection (of phenomena). The second is the idea of 
a relation, or system of relations. This is not a sensuous 
fact, though, like all pure categories, it may be applied to 
sensuous facts. Phenomenality, again, is a pure thought and 
not a thing. Just as, earlier in the Logic, when we deduced 
quantity, we were not deducing the sensuous things, stones, 
butter, space, men, to which quantity applies, but only the 
pure idea, so here we are not deducing the world of sense 
itself, or any other world, but only the pure category which 
the mind applies when it regards the universe as a world of 



276. The phenomenon is composed of matter and form. 
But £he matter turns out to be part of the form, and the 
form part of the matter (271). When so regarded matter and 
form become content and form. In other words, though a 
distinction is made between content and form, yet each is 
seen to be substantially the same as the other. The readiest 


examples of this relationship are to be found in the sphere of 
art, though it is by no means confined to that sphere. We 
separate a poem into its content, the thought or sentiment 
expressed, and its form, which includes the words which ex- 
press the thought, the versification, metre, etc. But it soon 
becomes evident that no such complete separation can be 
made. It is impossible to say what is content and what is 
form. For the form makes the content what it is, and the 
content equally determines the form. If the form of a poem 
were changed the poem itself, the very content, would be 
changed too. The form of the poem is not something merely 
imposed on the content from the outside, so that the form 
and the content are quite indifferent to each other. On the 
contrary this particular form is essential to this particular 
content, and as being essential to the content it is itself part 
of the content. Form and content are indissolubly fused 
together, and the one passes into the other. 

277. This shows the difference between the categories of 
matter and form, on the one hand, and content and form, 
on the other. We might easily imagine that they are the 
same thing, and that Hegel makes no advance here, but merely 
repeats himself. I n_ matter and form the t^n ftjfW aro in- 
d ifferent to each other. The matter is regarded as formles s. 
and the form as matterless. Each disregards the oth er. T hey 
are separate and merely externally connected. But in content 
and form the two sir^ sn i^r f rom being indifferent ^ 
each other that thev completely interpenetrate and determ ine 
each other. I t is now seen that there is no such thing as 
formless matter. Even the bare matter has form in itself 
and when so regarded it is not matter, but content. 


278. In content and form we have arrived at a kind of 
relation in which the two sides or terms of the relation are 
identical with each other. Matter and form were separate and 



indifferent to each other. But content and form, in spite of 
the distinction between them, are identical the one with the 
other. This brings us to a new sphere of categories. The 
distinctive feature of all the categories in this sphere is that 
each consists of two sides which, in spite of the two-foldness, 
are completely equal and identical with each other. The one 
side is only the other side under a different aspect. The cate- 
gories which manifest this peculiarity are (1) whole and parts, 
(2) force and its manifestation, (3) inner and outer. 

This sphere is called by Hegel relation or correlation. It 
might reasonably be objected that we have been dealing with 
categories of relation throughout the whole of the doctrine of 
essence, and further that the mutual dependence involved in 
reflection is the same thing as correlation. This is no doubt 
true, but it is a mere matter of terminology. Hegel has now 
arrived at a sphere in which in each category the two sides 
are identical. He wants a term to express the general idea. 
And he arbitrarily selects the terms relation and correlation. 
The selection may not be a very appropriate or happy one. 
But as long as we understand the sense in which he uses the 
words this does not much matter. It is the idea, not the name, 
which is important. And if he chooses thus arbitrarily to 
narrow down the term relation to the meaning here assigned, 
we need not object, and have only to keep in mind the special 
sense in which he uses it. 

Sub-Section I 

279. The first phase of relation is the category of the whole 
and the parts. The movement of thought in the sphere of 
relation is essentially similar to that in the sphere of difference 
(255 to 259), and it will considerably assist the student at 
this point to keep the sub-section on difference in mind. The 
deduction of the whole and the parts proceeds similarly to the 
deduction of variety. The first phase of difference was im- 
mediate difference, which meant that the differents did not 
mediate and depend upon one another, but each was indifferent 


to the other. Such difference was variety. In the same way 
here, the first phase of relation is, in accordance with the 
general principles of the Logic, the immediate relation, i.e. the 
relation in which the two terms do not involve each other, 
but are indifferent the one to the other. 

The deduction thus leads us to a relation concerning which 
we can assert two things ; (i) that the two terms are equal 
to one another, and yet (2) that they are indifferent to one 
another. This definition is the definition of the relation of 
whole and parts. That relation is the only one which possesses 
those two characteristics. 

Firstly, it is obvious that in this relation the two terms 
are identical and equal to one another, and this identity is 
commonly expressed by saying that the whole is equal to 
the sum of the parts. A heap of sugar consisting of twelve 
lumps may be regarded (a) as a heap, the whole, or (b) as 
twelve lumps of sugar, the parts. It is identically the same 
thing in either case. The whole and the parts are equal. 

Secondly, the whole and the parts do not involve each 
other. The one is indifferent to the other. And it is for this 
reason that the relation is an immediate one. This is not 
quite so easy to see as the first point. No doubt parts can 
only be parts in reference to a whole. But it is indifferent 
to the part whether it is a part or not ; i.e. the part is indifferent 
to whether it stands in relation to a whole or not. It makes 
no difference to the lump of sugar whether it is a part of a 
heap, or whether it stands by itself and is not a part. It is 
the same lump of sugar in any case. And similarly no doubt 
a whole can only be a whole by having parts. But it is in- 
different to the whole whether it is a whole or not. The sugar 
is just the same whether we pile it in a heap and call it a 
whole, or whether we scatter it to the four ends of space. 

280. The same thought may be expressed in a more familiar 
form if we say that the relation of whole and parts is a purely 
mechanical one. The whole and the parts are not organically 
or in any way necessarily connected with each other. And 
because they are not connected they do not mediate each 
other but are immediate. It is quite otherwise with organic 



relations, as for example those between an organism and its 
members. It is true that we loosely call the organism the 
whole and the members the parts. But whole and parts is 
an utterly inadequate category to apply here just because the 
organism and its members are not indifferent to one another. 
A true part, e.g. the lump of sugar, suffers nothing by being 
separated from the heap. But the leg or the hand separated 
from the body ceases to be a leg or hand, and becomes a mere 
lump of dead matter. The limb only is what it is when it 
stands in its proper relation to the others and occupies its 
due place in subordination to the whole organic system. The 
body is not a mere mechanical aggregate of parts. But the 
heap of sugar is such a mechanical aggregate. And it is this 
latter mechanical relation alone that is designated by Hegel 
whole and parts. And it is in this way that the whole and 
the parts are indifferent t6 one another, and so immediate. 1 

Sub-Section II 

281. The whole and the parts are equal and identical. 
Hence the whole in being related to the parts is related only 
to itself. And the parts in their relation to the whole are 
likewise self-related. Thus we have here the moment of self- 
relation or reflection- into-self. But every self-relation is a 
negative self-relation, that is to say, a relation which not only 
affirms itself but also negates itself by distinguishing itself 
from itself (208). Or again every reflection- into-self is equally 
reflection-into-another (267). But reflection-into-self is the 
form of identity, or unity. And reflection-into-another is the 
form of difference, or plurality. It was for this reason that 
the thing, matter, content, each of which in turn was found 
to be a reflection-into-self, were all regarded as unities, while 
the properties and the form, because they were reflection-into- 
another, were regarded as pluralities. 

We have now before us, therefore, a reflection-into-self 
which immediately repels itself into reflection-into-another. 

1 See § 239 above. 



And this is the same as saying that we have a unity which 
immediately differentiates itself into a plurality. And since 
the self- relation, or unity, is the side of essence, whereas the 
reflection- into- another, or plurality, is the side of outer being, 
or manifestation, we may say that we have a unity which 
puts itself forth in a plurality of manifestations. 

But not only does reflection-into-self at once become reflec- 
tion-into-another. Since the two are identical, therefore, 
reflection-into-another at once passes back again into reflec- 
tion-into-self. Hence not only have we here a unity which 
necessarily puts itself forth as a plurality of manifestations, but 
the many manifestations equally necessarily retire back into 
the unity. The relation of such a unity to such a plurality 
is that of force and the manifestation of force. 

282. It is extremely difficult to believe that this is a genuine 
deduction of force and its manifestation. It is certainly true, 
as we shall see, that a force is such a unity, and its manifesta- 
tions are such a plurality. And this much Hegel has deduced. 
But that this is all which is contained in the idea of force and 
its manifestation, is surely not the case. There are other 
purely empirical ideas involved. Dr. McTaggart suggests 
that Hegel is under no illusions as regards this. 1 The name 
of this category — force and its manifestation — is, he thinks, 
merely metaphorical. Or rather the name of a concrete 
empirical fact is used, not because Hegel imagines that he has 
deduced all the empirical material of that fact, but because 
the pure category which he has deduced — namely, the relation 
of a pure unity which passes into plurality, and a plurality 
which sinks back into unity — is most clearly exemplified in 
the outer world by that empirical fact ; or in other words 
because force is the best example of such a unity, just as space 
may be a good example of quantity. Probably this explanation 
is correct. If so this is a parallel instance to the category of 
repulsion and attraction, the name of which is undoubtedly 
metaphorical (209). 

283. We have to see, however, that force and its manifesta- 
tion are examples of such a unity and such a plurality as have 

1 Com.. § 146. 



been described. This is fairly obvious. We regard a great 
variety of phenomena as different manifestations of a single 
underlying force. Thus electricity manifests itself as lightning, 
as positive and negative electricity, as the sensation received 
from a shocking coil, and in other forms. Heat likewise mani- 
fests itself in a variety of ways. The capacities of a man's 
character may also be regarded as forces which manifest 
themselves in his actions. 

284. Force not only does, but must manifest itself. For it 
is nothing but its manifestation, and without its manifestation 
it is nothing, merely non-existent. Force is not one thing 
and its manifestation another. They are the same thing. So 
that if one is taken away, the other disappears with it. Light- 
ning is not something different from electricity. It is electri- 
city. And for this reason the attempt to explain things by 
forces is a futile tautology. It is simply explaining a thing 
by itself. To explain lightning by electricity is to explain it 
by itself. The force is unthinkable without the manifestation. 

285. And for this reason, too, it is absurd to say, as it is 
often said, that we can only know the manifestations of force, 
but that what force is in itself must remain unknowable. It 
is only unknowable because there is nothing to know. Force, 
apart from its manifestation, is a nonentity, is nothing but an 
empty abstraction. It is the empty abstraction of identity 
without difference, of reflection-into-self apart from reflection- 
into-another. The very phrase 41 what force is in itself" 
should teach us this. This 14 in itself " means that it is re- 
garded apart from any relation to other, i.e. as a pure self- 
relation, or reflection-into-self. But self-relation cannot be 
thus held abstractly by itself. It necessarily involves relation 
to other, distinction, difference. There is no such thing as a 
thing " in itself 11 destitute of relations to other things. De- 
stroy its relations and you destroy the thing, for the very 
being of the thing is constituted by its relations. And the 
necessity of force to manifest itself is simply the necessity of 
reflection-into-self to pass into reflection-into-another. The 
necessity, on the other hand, by which we trace back the many 
manifestations to the unity of a single force, is the return 


of the reflection-into- another to reflection- into- self, the ground- 
ing of the former on the latter, which as we have seen is a 
logically necessary movement of thought. 

Sub-Section III 


286. Force and its manifestation are identical From the 
side of pure thought we reach this result by the insight that 
force apart from its manifestation, as it is 4 * in itself," is 
abstract reflection-into-self. The manifestation, on the other 
hand, is the abstract reflection-into-another. But reflection- 
into-self and reflection-into-another are identical. Hence force 
and its manifestation are identical. 

Empirically we see the same thing when we reflect that 
lightning, the manifestation, is not something different from 
electricity, the force, but that the lightning is the electricity ; 
the manifestation is the force. 

In this relation, the force is, of course, regarded as the 
inner being, the side of essence. For it is the side of self- 
relation and identity. The manifestation is the outer being, 
for it is the side of difference, diversity, reflection-into-another. 
But as regards its content the distinction collapses, for the 
content of both terms of the relation is identical. We are 
left therefore with the empty shell, the formal difference of 
inner being and outer being. And inner and outer, therefore, 
is the last category of appearance. 

287. Bat even this distinction has only to be mentioned to 
collapse to unity. The inner is empty ground, the empty 
form of reflection-into-self. The outer is the empty form of 
reflection-into-another. And these two are identical. Hence 
the inner is the outer, and the outer is the inner. 

288. The category of inner and outer is not of course to 
be thought of in the primary acceptation of the words which 
gives them a purely spatial meaning. It is not, for example, 
the inside and the outside of a box which is here in view. It 
is rather the inner and the outer as the essence and manifes- 
tation of things respectively. In Hinduism Brahman is the 



inner, the world the outer. Or in every -day affairs, the 
character of a man, his sentiments, intentions, and motives, 
are the inner, while his actions are the outer. 

289. But now we see that the distinction between inner and 
outer is an empty one. They collapse to unity. To insist on 
the rigorous opposition of the two, and to ignore their identity 
is a characteristic of the stiff-necked understanding which leads 
to endless errors. This is a favourite theme with Hegel. 
And as the examples which he gives illustrate admirably how 
powerful the principles of his philosophy become when applied 
to practical concerns, it may be well to quote some of his own 
words. Since the inner being of a man is identical with his outer 
being, " we are thus justified in saying that a man is what 
he does ; and the lying vanity which consoles itself with the 
feeling of inward excellence, may be confronted with the words 
of the Gospel : 1 By their fruits ye shall know them.' M 1 And 
in art too, 4 ' if a daub of a painter, or a poetaster, soothe them- 
selves by the conceit that their head is full of high ideals, 
their consolation is a poor one ; and if they insist on being 
judged not by their actual works but by their projects, we 
may safely reject their pretensions as unfounded and un- 
meaning. The converse case, however, also occurs. In pass- 
ing judgment on men who have accomplished something great 
and good, we often make use of the false distinction between 
inward and outward. All that they have accomplished, we 
say, is merely outward ; inwardly they were acting from some 
very different motive such as a desire to gratify their vanity 
or other unworthy passion. . . . But though it is possible that 
men in an instance now and then may dissemble and disguise 
a good deal, they cannot conceal the whole of their inner self, 
which infallibly betrays itself in the decursus vitae. Even here 
it is true that a man is nothing but the series of his actions. 

" What is called the 4 pragmatic ' writing of history has 
frequently sinned in its treatment of great historical characters 
... by this fallacious separation of the outward from the 
inward. . . . The pragmatic historian fancies himself justified 
and even obliged to trace the supposed secret motives that lie 
1 Wal., Log., § 140 Z. 



behind the open facts of the record. The historian, in that 
case, is supposed to write with more depth in proportion as 
he succeeds in tearing away the aureole from all that has 
heretofore been held giand and glorious. ... If we have due 
regard to the unity between the inner and the outer, we must 
own that great men willed what they did and did what they 
willed." 1 In this, as in all matters that he touches, Hegel 
indicates the profounder view and exposes the shallow. 

290. Inner and outer is the final phase of correlation. The 
mediation which was absent, or only implicitly present, in 
the immediate relation of whole and parts, is now explicit. 
Inner and outer are not indifferent to one another as whole 
and parts were. Each completely involves the other and 
depend? on the other ; and in this respect they resemble 
positive and negative in which interdependence was fully 
developed as against the immediacy and indifference of variety. 
What is inward necessarily becomes outward, and vice versa. 

1 Wal., Log., § 140 Z. 



291. The transition from appearance to actuality is quite 
simple. We have been dealing with a series of double cate- 
gories of which, in each case, one was the side of essence while 
the other was the side of manifestation or appearance. Essence 
and appearance finally determined themselves as inner and 
outer respectively. But the distinction between inner and 
outer collapsed to unity. They turned out to be identical. 
This means that the distinction between essence and appear- 
ance has collapsed to unity. The one is identical with the 
other. The result, i.e. the unity of essence and appearance, 
is actuality. 

292. In the doctrine of essence the universe is regarded as 
double, as having an inner side, which is essence, and an outer 
side, which is appearance. In particular, each category has its 
inner and its outer being. But in general, Chapter I., essence 
as ground of existence, dealt with the inner being, the essence. 
Chapter II., appearance, dealt with the outer being, appear- 
ance, external existence. Actuality, therefore, as the synthesis 
of the triad is the unity of inner and outer, of essence and 

293. The actual is not merely inner or merely outer. It 
is both ; for, in the actual, inner and outer are no longer 
separate, but are identical. Yet the distinction, though an- 
nulled, is yet preserved, sublated. The actual also has its 
two sides of inner and outer, but this distinction is within its 
own self-identity. The inner is the outer, and the outer is 
the inner. The essence manifests itself completely. There is 




nothing in the essence which does not put itself forth in mani- 
festation. And this manifestation is the essence, and is quite 
as essential and real as the essence. 

294. Hegel uses the word actuality much as other thinkers 
use the word reality. Hence the position to which this stage 
of the Logic brings us is as follows. The view that the 
immediate external world (the outward) is reality, is one- 
sided. This view is that of common sense, and also of 
materialism. The view that the external world is a mere show, 
a nullity, unreality, and that reality lies solely in an underlying 
essence (the inward) such as the Brahman of the Hindus, or 
the pure being of the Eleatics, is the opposite one-sided 
abstraction. The external world is certainly appearance, 
phenomenon. But it is not a nullity. It is just as essential to 
reality as the essence is. Were it not so it would be impossible 
to understand why the essence (Brahman, being, etc.) should 
ever manifest itself. It does so because it must, because it is 
essential to its own reality that it should do so, because without 
its manifestation it would itself be unreal. Reality, then, or 
actuality, is not the essence alone, nor is it the manifestation 
alone, but it is the essence which manifests itself. The external 
world, the manifestation, is not to be regarded as a veil which 
hides and obscures the inner being (illusion, Maya, deception), 
but on the contrary as revealing the inner being and bringing 
it fully to knowledge and light. Thus to know the outer is 
to know the inner, for the outer is precisely the revelation 
of the inner. It is the inner. 

295. If now we ask, what is, in this sense, actual, the reply 
must be that only the rational is actual. Not every existence 
is actual. For some things which exist, such as evil, are not 
rational. Hence such things are mere shows, outward nullities 
which do not reveal the inward reason of the world. Hegel 
attempts to prove this by arguing that the definition of 
actuality as the unity of inward and outward involves the 
idea of necessity ; and that necessity involves rationality. For 
necessity is the same as rationality (74, 75). Of course not 
mere external and mechanical necessity is meant, but rather 
the logical necessity which attaches to the utterances of reason. 



That this ink is black is a mere fact. It is so. But for any 
reason one can see to the contrary it might as well be pink. 
This fact, then, is a mere fact which is so. It might as well 
be otherwise. It is contingent. But that two and two make 
four is a necessity. If it can be shown that to define the actual 
as the unity of inner and outer logically implies defining it 
also as what is thus logically necessary, it will then be proved 
that the actual is the rational. This is the meaning of the 
famous propositions laid down by Hegel asserting that 

What is reasonable is actual, and, what is actual is reason- 
able. 1 

Since actuality means the unity of inner and outer, these 
propositions may also be expressed by saying that only what 
is rational in the outer world is a true revelation of the inward 
being of the universe. 

296. Such a position is really involved in all idealism. For 
if the Absolute is reason, it follows that only the rational in 
the world truly reveals it. Whether it is not also involved 
in idealism that everything that exists, including evil and what 
is generally called the irrational, is, in the last resort, rational, 
is a question that must be reserved for later treatment (425 
to 427). At the moment the only point is that the identifica- 
tion of actuality with rationality and necessity is an essential 
part of idealism. And therefore its true proof lies in the 
general proof of idealism, and in all those considerations which 
were adduced in Part I. of this book. Hegel, however, here 
attempts an independent deduction of this position by showing 
that the definition which he gives of actuality implies its 
necessity and therefore its rationality. Unfortunately this 
proof is obscure and difficult in the last degree, and is of very 
doubtful validity. But the main heads of the argument 
appear to be as follows. 

297. We have to show that actuality is necessity. The 
factors of actuality are the inner and the outer. The inner 
taken by itself is possibility. For the inner is reflection-into- 
self, abstract self-relation, identity. It obeys therefore the 
law of identity, namely, that it should have no internal con- 

1 Phil, of Right, Preface, xxvii, and Wal. f Log., § 6. 


tradiction. And whatever is not self- contradictory is possible. 
Of course external conditions may render an internally con- 
sistent fact impossible. Thus I say it is possible that " the 
Sultan may become Pope ; for being a man he may be con- 
verted to Christianity, may become a Catholic priest, and so 
on." 1 By saying that this is possible what we mean is that 
there is nothing self-contradictory in such an assumption. 
From another point of view of course, external conditions may 
render such an event impossible. But in that case we are 
considering external conditions, i.e. the reflection-into-another, 
the outer being, of the fact. If we consider merely its inner 
side, its abstract identity, it is possible. The possibility here 
in view is of the kind of which it is said that a thing is in 
itself possible, i.e. it is possible so long as we leave out of 
consideration its relations to other things. 2 

If the inner taken by itself is thus the possible, the outer 
taken by itself is the contingent. For, on the one hand, as 
outward it is an actually existent being, not a mere possi- 
bility. On the other hand, since inward and outward are 
identical, this mere outward is also a mere inward, and as a 
mere inward is only a possibility. Hence it is an existent 
being which is yet characterized as not necessary, but merely 
possible, a thing of which we say 11 it may be " and therefore 
equally " it may not be." It is thus an existence for which 
no reason can be given why it must be, of which the opposite 
is equally possible. This horse is brown, but it might equally 
well be grey. This is the contingent. 

Rational necessity is that which has its ground in itself, 
which is its own reason. Hence, for example, we say that 
axioms are 41 self-evident," meaning thereby that their reason, 
or ground, is in themselves, and hence they are necessary. 
The contingent, on the other hand, is just what lacks this 
characteristic. It has its ground always in another. The 

i Wal., Log., § 143 Z. 

8 The introduction of possibility in the sphere of actuality is no doubt 
partly due to Aristotelian influences. Aristotle contrasted potentiality and 
actuality. Potentiality is the inward " in itself," mere capacity, which 
has not yet come forth into actuality. Hegel, with just the same meaning, 
contrasts possibility and actuality. 



greyness of this horse is not grounded in itself, but is the 
result of external circumstances such as heredity, etc. The 
ground of the contingent is another contingent, and the ground 
of that is a third, and so on. But this everlasting system of 
external determination is the same as necessity, not logical, 
but merely mechanical necessity. The contingent therefore is 
necessary in this sense, and hence necessity of this kind is 
involved in the notion of actuality. 

298. So far the argument is clear. It is at this point that it 
becomes obscure. For Hegel now seeks to pass from mech- 
anical to rational necessity. How he proposes to do this is 
not very evident. I can do no more than quote from Dr. 
McTaggart, who is himself merely repeating the interpretation 
of Noel. 44 The transition," he says, 41 seems to consist in the 
fact that if we all took existence as a whole it would form a 
necessity which was not contingent, but which had contingency 
as an element within itself. It would not be contingent, for it 
would have no ground outside itself. But contingency would 
be an element in it, because each part of it would be deter- 
mined by other parts of it. Each part then would have its 
ground outside itself, and, looked at separately, would be 
contingent. ,, 1 

299. This is no doubt obscure. But the general position of 
Hegel as regards actuality is quite clear. Only what is rational 
is actual. That is the essential point. This position follows 
from the fundamentals of idealism (296). But Hegel chooses 
to attempt the proof of it in another way, viz. by showing 
that the definition of actuality as the unity of inner and outer 
involves that actuality is the same thing as logical necessity, 
which is the same as rationality. Taking it for granted, at 
any rate, that the actual is the necessary and rational we may 
proceed with the development of this sphere of categories. 
Actuality develops itself in three phases (1) substance and 
accident, (2) cause and effect, (3) reciprocity (action and 

* Com., § 165, 




300. The inner is the ground of the outer. But in actuality 
the outer is the same as the inner. The actual, therefore, is 
what is grounded in itself. But to be thus self-grounded, to 
be determined by self and not by another, is precisely what 
is meant by the term substance. We call anything a substance 
when we conceive that it has an independent being of its own. 
That, on the contrary, whose being is merely dependent on 
the substance, that which has no separate existence of its 
own, is the accident of the substance. Thus the first phase 
of actuality is substance. 

Because substance is the ground of itself, it is in that way 
a self-relation. But self-relation is identity (253), and as self- 
identical it is a unity. Every such self-relation is a negative 
self-relation, and by distinguishing itself from itself, puts itself 
forth to difference and plurality (208). Substance, therefore, 
similarly differentiates itself into an outward diversity. But 
what substance puts forth from itself is only itself and therefore 
disappears again into the self-relatedness of substance. It is 
a mere moment of substance regarded, for the nonce, as if it 
were something separate. This diversity of vanishing mom- 
ents, which substance puts forth from itself only to swallow 
them up again as passing modifications of its own being, is 
what we call the accidents. Hence we have now before us the 
relation of substance and accident. 

301. In outer and inner, we were informed, the duplicity of 
essence finally disappeared (291). It may therefore be objected 
to Hegel that substance and accident constitute a duplicity 
which we are supposed to have transcended. The same 
remark applies to the other categories of actuality, namely, 
cause and effect, action and reaction. According to Dr. 
McTaggart, however, the present duplicity is " no longer the 
old duplicity which was transcended in inner and outer. . . . We 
could, according to Hegel, contrast the reality seen as whole 



with the reality seen as parts, for although the content was 
the same in both cases, whole and parts were two separate 
forms, under either of which it could be seen. And the same 
was true of force and exertion. But now it is different. To 
regard it as substance is to regard it also as accidents, and 
to regard it as accidents is to regard it also as substance. " 1 

302. The category of substance was that under which 
Spinoza regarded the universe. That the Absolute is sub- 
stance ; this was his definition. That Spinozism was a true 
philosophy is proved by the arrival of the dialectic at this 
point. Substance is a necessary phase in the self- evolution of 
the Idea, and it is a necessary standpoint in the course of the 
progressive interpretation of the universe. But that this 
philosophy, and this definition, are still inadequate to the 
fullness of the truth the onward course of the dialectic from 
this point will prove. That the Absolute is substance is true. 
But that it is not merely substance, but rather that it is, when 
adequately comprehended, subject or spirit, this is the further 
truth which is yet to seek. 



303. Thus substance, being a negative self -relation, puts 
itself forth as accidents. The accident, being as an other to 
substance, negates it. But substance resumes, or reabsorbs, 
the accident back into itself. It thus negates its negation, 
and is therefore absolute negativity (204). The element of 
negation, however, is activity, creativeness, power. Why the 
element of negation is regarded as power has been fully ex- 
plained in the first part of this book (43), and need not be 
repeated here. Substance, as absolute negativity is therefore 
absolute power, activity. It is an active substance which puts 
forth power from itself. 

Substance puts itself forth as accident. But what it puts 
forth is itself. Therefore what it puts forth is substance. 

1 Com., § 166. 


Hence the accident is another substance. Thus we have the 
conception of an active substance which exerts power over a 
second substance, which is conceived as receiving that power, 
and so as passive. This is cause and effect. The active 
substance is the cause ; the passive substance is the effect. 


304. Causation depends upon the distinction between active 
and passive substance. But this distinction cannot be main- 
tained. This passiveness is a mere abstraction. What is 
passive is also active. We may see this first in the form of 
pure thought, and secondly in the form of empirical examples. 

To begin with pure thought, the effect is, like the cause, 
a substance. But substance is an absolute negativity, and 
therefore exerts power, is active (303). The distinction be- 
tween cause and effect thus collapses. Each is a cause, and 
each is an effect. Substance A, as active, operates on sub- 
stance B, as passive. But B as active, equally operates on 
A. This is reciprocity, or action and reaction. 

305. Empirically we see that if heat melts wax we may, if 
we like, regard the heat as an activity and the wax as a 
passive substance. In that case we have a relation of cause 
and effect. But this effect could not be produced in the wax, 
were it not part of the nature of the wax itself to be melted. 
Thus the nature of the wax is just as much part of the cause 
as the heat is. It is the nature of heat to produce this effect 
in wax, but it is equally the nature of wax to behave in this 
way as regards heat. It is really a case of reciprocal activity. 

We see the same truth in a more advanced form in the 
spiritual life of man. We speak of temptations besetting us 
as if in temptation we remained wholly passive. But it is 
only because our own feelings and emotions are incited to 
activity by the outer stimulus that we are tempted. There is 
really activity on both sides. If we were wholly passive 
temptation would be impossible. 



Reciprocity being a category so advanced that it stands 
on the verge of the spiritual categories of the Notion, we 
should naturally expect that it would find its most perfect 
examples in the spiritual and social life of man. And this is 
the reason why it is often so difficult, when we come to the 
arena of history and social conditions, to say which of two 
phenomena is the cause and which the effect, to say, for 
example, how far the laws and constitutions of a nation are 
the effect of the national character or how far the national 
character is the effect of the laws. What this difficulty really 
indicates, is that we are moving in a sphere for the comprehen- 
sion of which causality is an inadequate category. The truer 
category here is that of reciprocity. 

Though reciprocity thus finds its most obvious examples 
in the higher grades of existence, it is nevertheless, like all 
other categories, applicable to the entire universe. We have 
now reached that grade of thought at which the whole universe 
is regarded as a self-closed sphere of reciprocal action and 
reaction. Every part of the universe, directly or indirectly, 
influences every other part. 

306. According to Hutchison Stirling, 1 whose interpretation 
here is at least interesting, reciprocity is the stage at which 
philosophy had arrived before Hegel The various phases of 
the Idea dialectically developed in the Logic unfold themselves 
also in time in the successive systems of philosophy. In 
Parmenides and Heraclitus we have the series of categories 
being, nothing, becoming. The modern pre- Hegelian world of 
thought was governed by the categories of understanding, 
and hence their essential concepts are constituted by the 
categories of essence. In the dialectical development of 
thought in the Logic, we have the series substance, causation, 
reciprocity. The historical order is the same. Spinoza repre- 
sents substance, Hume causation, and Kant reciprocity. 
What is meant by saying that the essential thought of Hume 
was causation is fairly obvious, — though the remark is of 
doubtful value. Kant is said by Stirling to represent recipro- 
city because the governing idea of his philosophy is that the 
1 Secret, vol. i. pp. 217, 218, 219, 245, and other passages. 


world of experience as we know it is the joint product of the 
interaction of things-in-themselves and the subjective forms 
of perception (space and time) and thought (the categories), 
or in other words that the essential truth of things is the 
reciprocal influence of subject and object. The essential cate- 
gory of Hegel, that in which he advances beyond all past 
philosophy, is found in the Notion. 



307. The Notion arises from the dialectic of reciprocity, the 
last category of essence. But to understand what the Notion 
is, and how it is deduced from reciprocity, it will be best to 
go back to substance and briefly trace the steps of the dialectic 
from that point. 

Substance puts itself forth into accidentality. Since it is 
itself which substance puts forth, the accident is also a sub- 
stance. Hence the first substance acts on the second substance, 
and in this relation we have cause and effect, the cause being 
the active substance, the effect the passive substance. But 
since the effect is a substance it is also active, and is therefore 
a cause which reacts on the previous cause. Hence we have 
reciprocity. In each of these categories we have a self- related 
substance which puts itself forth into an opposite, first as 
accident, then as effect, and finally as reacting substance* 

Now in reciprocity the substance and its opposite become 
identical. The distinction between cause and effect is ex- 
tinguished. For the cause has become effect, and the effect 
has become a cause. Hence the two substances become one. 

We shall fail to understand this if we think exclusively in 
terms of empirical examples. No doubt it is true that though 
the sun and the earth react on one another, they do not on 
that account become identical. But the sun and the earth are 
much more than cause and effect. The thought of them 
contains in addition a heap of empirical material. To see 



Hegel's point we have to think pure cause and effect. Just as 
the identity of being and nothing does not mean that a par- 
ticular being, dinner, is the same as a particular nothing, 
no- dinner, so here it is not meant that a particular cause the 
sun is the same as a particular effect the earth. We have to 
abstract from the empirical material, and think pure cause. 
In this pure cause there is nothing whatever present but its 
causality. And since the effect is cause, the cause is effect, 
and there is nothing else in either of them, the two are com- 
pletely identical. Hence we have now reached the idea of 
a being which in passing outwards into its opposite passes only 
into itself^ and this opposite does not become anything different, 
but remains, even in the opposition, completely identical with 
itself. This is the definition of the Notion. This being is also 
an absolute return into itself. For in reciprocity A determines 
B, but B determines A. Hence in determining B, A only 
determines itself. And if it goes forth into its opposite, its 
opposite equally goes forth into it. But since its opposite is 
only itself, this latter movement is the return of itself into 
itself. But this being which, while going forth out of itself, 
yet all the while abides unchanged within itself is no longer 
substance. It is the Notion. 

308. Such is the dialectical derivation of the Notion. But 
the tyro at Hegel will not be satisfied with this. He will say 
14 cause, substance, quality, quantity — all these are familiar 
ideas. One knows what is meant by them. But who has 
ever heard of the Notion ? What is the Notion ? We may 
understand the deduction, but we do not understand what it 
is that has been deduced. 1 1 This perplexity is in part due to 
the fact that the familiar Kantian list of categories contains no 
division which corresponds to Hegel's categories of the Notion. 
Hegel's categories of being correspond, roughly speaking, to 
Kant's categories of quality and quantity. His categories 
of essence correspond to Kant's categories of relation and 
modality. There is nothing in the Kantian list corresponding 
to the Notion. The discovery of the Notion constitutes 
precisely Hegel's new discovery, his advance beyond Kant 

The first thing to understand is that what is here deduced 



is a new sphere of thought which is different both from being 
and essence. The essential character of being was immediacy. 
Each category purported to stand by itself as something 
independent and valid on its own account. The dialectic, 
indeed, showed that this independence was a mere semblance, 
that quality so far from being thus isolated, involved quantity, 
and so on. But it required thought to force the categories of 
being to pass from their isolation into connection with their 
neighbours. Being was thus characterized as immediacy. 

But this kind of being turned out to be false. It passed 
into essence. The transition to essence proved that it is no 
longer possible to regard reality as immediacy, but that it 
must now be viewed as mediation. The categories of essence 
explicity mediated one another. Each category is mediated 
by its opposite, identity by difference, positive by negative, 
cause by effect, and so on. But the point to fasten on here 
is that each category was mediated, not by itself, but by 
something different from itself, namely, its opposite. 

Now in reciprocity this point of view, too, has broken down, 
for the opposite of the being or substance, which mediates it, 
has turned out to be no opposite at all but only itself. Reality 
is now, therefore, regarded as mediated by itself. This is the 
point of view of the Notion. Being is immediacy. Essence 
is mediation by another. The Notion is self-mediation. The 
Notion is the idea of a being which in its opposite remains 
identical with itself, and in that way mediates itself. 

Since, on the one hand, all mediation has here collapsed to 
identity, since opposition, which is the same as mediation, 
has vanished, therefore the Notion is once more an immediacy. 
But since, on the other hand, the Notion mediates itself, it is, 
in that way, mediation. Hence it is the unity of immediacy 
and mediation ; it is the synthesis of being (immediacy) and 
essence (mediation). And it therefore correctly appears here 
as the third member of the great triad of the Logic, being, 
essence, the Notion. 

309. No doubt the question, " what is the Notion ? " still 
appears to be unanswered. But it must be remembered that 
we have so far only defined the general sphere of the Notion. 


It is impossible to be more definite until we reach the detailed 
exposition of the categories within this sphere. Then it will 
be seen that these categories possess the character of self- 
mediation described. For the present it is impossible to say 
more than that what constitutes the Notion is the general 
character of self-mediation. In essence each category was 
mediated by its opposite. In the Notion each category is 
still, in a sense, mediated by its opposite, but this opposite is 
immediately seen to be simply and solely itself. It is seen 
at once to be a distinction which is no distinction, a distinction 
of what is at the same time absolutely identical. This is the 
idea of self-mediation, and if it is understood, then we have 
grasped the meaning of the Notion. 

310. Before we proceed to the detailed exposition of the 
Notion, there are three general observations which are in 
point here. Firstly, the Notion is the sphere of reason. Being 
was the point of view of simple apprehension, essence of under- 
standing (245). Essence was characterized by difference, 
distinction, mediation. The Notion has for its character the 
merging of mediation, the absorption of all distinctions within 
an absolute identity, which annuls and yet preserves these 
distinctions. Its principle is therefore the identity of op- 
posites. The opposites now appear as absolutely distinct and 
yet absolutely identical. This is the principle of reason. 

311. Secondly, as essence was the sphere of necessity, so 
the Notion is the sphere of freedom. For self-mediation is 
self-determination, and to be self-determined is to be free. 
Necessity is determination by another. In the sphere of 
essence the other, in the form of an opposite, stood over against 
the essence as something different from it which determined it. 
But the Notion has overcome the opposition, and absorbed its 
opposite into itself. The opposite which determines it is now 
seen to be only itself, and as it is not determined by anything 
other than itself, it is free. Determination by another which 
constituted necessity has turned into self-determination. This 
is the meaning of Hegel's phrase, 11 The truth of necessity is 
freedom." 1 

1 Wal., Log., § 158. 


312. Lastly, in the Notion thought becomes infinite. This 
also follows from the self-determination of the Notion, Finite 
thought is thought which is encumbered with an opposite. 
When it merges this opposite within itself, it ceases to have 
anything outside it, and is, therefore, infinite. This will 
become more evident when we reach the final stage of the 
Notion in the Absolute Idea. 

The three stadia of the Notion are (1) the subjective Notion, 
(2) the object, or the objective Notion, (3) the Idea. 



313. The subjective Notion is divided into (1) the Notion 
as Notion, i.e. the Notion " in itself," implicit, an sick ; (2) 
the judgment, which is the subjective Notion sundering itself 
into opposition, the Notion ausser sich ; and (3) the syllogism, 
which is the return of the Notion out of that opposition into 
itself, the subjective Notion fur sich. 

Thus it will be seen that this part of the Logic treats the 
same material as Formal Logic. But whereas the Aristotelian 
Logic is wholly empirical, the Hegelian treatment aims at 
being rational. The common text-books of Logic tell us, as 
a fact, that there are such and such kinds of proposition, such 
and such figures of the syllogism, and so on. But no reason 
is given for these assertions. That there are four figures of 
the syllogism is just as much a blind irrational fact, an absolute 
contingency, as that there are five continents on the planet. 
Our only reason for asserting that there are so many kinds 
of judgment or so many kinds of syllogism is simply that in 
experience it is found to be so. " In this way," says Hegel, 
" we get an empirical logic — surely an odd science, an irrational 
cognition of the rational. Logic thus affords a very bad 
example of obedience to its own lessons. M 1 

The Hegelian treatment of the subject proceeds, on the 
other hand, according to the dialectic method. The different 
species of judgment and syllogism are not merely asserted bat 
are deduced. And in this way Logic is raised from the level 
of a heap of empirical facts to the level of a rational science, 

1 Macran, p. 163. 



which, as the science of reason, it, above all others, surely 
ought to be. 


Sub-Section I 


314. The general character of the Notion to which the 
dialectic has brought us yields us also the factors of the Notion. 
The Notion is the identity of opposites. Since its opposite 
is immediately identical with itself, it is, therefore, absolute 
identity. This unity or identity is the universal. Even such 
common and sensuous universals as man, table, house, exhibit 
this character, that they are what is identical in the various 
particulars. But, as we shall see, the universality of the 
Notion differs fundamentally from these abstract universals. 

315. The main thought here, namely, that what is self- 
mediated is an absolute identity, is easy to understand. But 
if the universal is simply this identity, it may be asked how 
the universal differs from the category of identity which came 
at the beginning of essence. The answer is that that category 
was abstract identity and had over against it abstract difference 
as its opposite. Here, the universal is an identity which in- 
cludes its opposite within itself. It is not only identical with 
itself in itself. It is also identical with itself in its opposite. 
It is thus a concrete identity. It is true that the category of 
identity in essence was also shown to involve difference, but 
the point is that this had to be shown. It was not explicit. 
But here, as we shall see, the universal is immediately and 
explicitly seen to be its own opposite. 

Sub-Section II 


316. Since the Notion opposes itself to itself, it thereby 
negates itself, determines itself. This element of negativity 


determinateness, is difference, particularity. It is the differ- 
entia which determines the genus (universal). This gives us 
the particular. The Notion is the identity of opposites. The 
factor of identity is the universal. The factor of opposition 
is the particular. 

Sub-Section III 


317. The Notion thus goes into opposition to itself and 
this opposition is particularity. But its opposite is only 
itself. This identity of its opposite with itself constitutes the 
negation of the negation, and so the return of the Notion into 
itself. For if the Notion first negates itself and becomes its 
opposite, this opposition is now again negated to absolute 
identity. This return into itself of the Notion is therefore 
the unity of the universal and the particular, or it is the 
identity of identity and difference, i.e. it is the singular, or 
individual. Put in another way, this reasoning may be stated 
as follows. The original Notion in going forth into its opposite 
develops a duality within itself, but this duality is again 
immediately annulled ; and in the return into itself, it becomes 
again a unity, but now a determinate unity, since it has 
determined itself through the particular. This absolutely 
self-determined unity is the singular. 


318. The universal, the particular, and the singular, are 
not three categories. They are the three moments or factors 
of the one indivisible category, the Notion. Each moment is 
itself the whole Notion, and is absolutely identical with the 
other two. For this is precisely the character of the Notion 
that, on the one hand, it differentiates itself into its factors, 
but on the other hand, in these distinctions it remains absol- 
utely identical with itself, so that they in no wise interrupt 
or disturb its absolutely transparent unity and simple self- 

Universality is the original simple self- identity of the Notion. 



This is the factor of unity and identity. Particularity is the 
factor of difference, but although it is thus an opposite, it is 
identical with the universal. For, inasmuch as the universal 
is now brought face to face with an opposite, the universal is 
now itself only one of two. It is therefore only a particular. 
Thus the universal and the particular are identical. Singular- 
ity, again, is simply the identity of the universal and the 
particular. And if the universal and the particular be thus 
regarded as the factors of singularity, then, since the universal 
and the particular are identical, each of them is accordingly 
the whole of singularity. The universal, the particular, and 
the singular, are therefore completely identical with each other. 
Each, therefore, is the other two just as much as it is itself. 
Hence each is the whole undivided Notion. 

It will be evident that we have now reached the absolute 
merging of all mediation, the absolute unity in difference and 
difference in unity which constitutes the very being of reason. 

319. The German word for the Notion, der Begriff, is the 
word commonly used to mean " concept.' ' Most Hegelian 
translators and commentators render it, in the present con- 
nection, the Notion. 1 And this translation seems preferable 
to " concept n because it is of absolutely fundamental im- 
portance that the Notion should be clearly distinguished from 
what is ordinarily called a concept. Ordinarily speaking, any 
abstract idea, such as man, house, whiteness, goodness, etc., is 
described as a concept. Such concepts are called universals, 
and the general sphere of such universals is described as the 
universal. Now the universal, in this sense, is utterly different 
from the universal of Hegel's Notion. And if this difference 
is not apprehended it will be impossible for us to understand 
the essential characteristics of the Notion. The ordinary 
concept is an abstract universal. Hegel's universal is concrete. 
The former is abstract because it specially excludes from itself, 
i.e. abstracts from, the particular and the singular. But 
Hegel's universal is concrete because, as we have seen, it 
contains the particular and singular within itself. " The man 

1 Mr. Macran, however, in his Hegel's Doctrine of Formal Logic, translates 
it consistently " the concept." 


who wrote this book " is a singular ; 44 man M is the universal ; 
M who wrote this book " is the particular, or differentia. The 
universal, " man/' specially excludes all particular determin- 
ateness, and is therefore an empty and indeterminate abstrac- 
tion. But the Notion arose dialectically from reciprocity as 
self -mediation, as self- determination, and therefore as an 
absolutely determined self -identity. In its aspect as identity it 
is the universal. But this identity is determined and is there- 
fore at the same time particular. For determinateness is 
particularity. And the universal which is particular, is the 
singular. Thus the Notion is no empty abstraction like the 
concepts of the logic-books, but is concrete out and out. 

If then it be asked what examples can be given of true 
universals, if the ordinary abstractions, man, house, book, 
etc., are denied that name, the answer is that the categories 
of the Logic, and also the 44 notions " of the philosophy of 
nature and the philosophy of spirit, are such genuine uni- 
versals. Thus the universal 44 being " is genuine because it 
develops its own particularity, 44 nothing," out of itself, and 
becomes concrete as 44 becoming." 

320. It is now possible for us to see that the Notion is the 
very secret, the inner nerve and life-process of the whole Logic. 
Now we can understand the statement which Hegel makes at 
the very beginning of the doctrine of being, — 41 Being is the 
Notion implicit." 1 We have really been dealing with the 
Notion throughout the Logic, even in the very first steps of 
the doctrine of being. But the Notion was there hidden and 
has only now come to light as the inner truth and meaning 
of the whole process. Only now is it the Notion as Notion. 
Then it was the Notion as being, or later, as essence, i.e. 
disguised under forms other than its own form. Then it was 
implicit, now it is explicit. 

In each triad of the Logic, the first category is the universal, 
the second is the particular, and the third is the singular. 
Being is the universal. This universal is inflected with a 
negative element, a determination, a difference — nothing. 
This is the particular. The universal, being, as thus deter- 

* Wal., Log., § 84. 



mined by particularity and difference becomes the singular — 
becoming. And it is the same throughout the entire process 
of the Logic, and throughout the rest of the system. The 
Logical Idea in general is the universal. Nature is the par- 
ticular, the sphere of difference. The singular is the concrete 

321. Lastly, it should be clear now why this sphere of the 
Logic is called the subjective Notion, or subjectivity. What it 
deals with is essentially thought, — concepts, judgments, and 
syllogisms. The universe is now regarded as subjectivity, as 
thought. Hegel states that the ego is the Notion, or conversely 
that the Notion is subjectivity. The readiest way of under- 
standing this is by reference to Kant. Kant analyzed con- 
sciousness into two halves, the given material and the form. 
The latter half is the categories, and space and time. These 
are the work of the ego. They are the ego itself. The material 
content is given from outside and is what is not the ego. If 
then we ask what the ego in itself is, apart from this or that 
particular content which it happens to have at any time, the 
answer is that the ego is pure thought, i.e. for Kant it is the 
twelve categories, for Hegel it is the Notion, which is the sum 
and totality of all the categories, the inner secret of them all. 
Kant's ego is an abstract universal, a pure self-identity. 
Hence the question how and why it differentiates itself into 
the twelve categories remained for him an insoluble problem. 
For Hegel the problem is solved. The ego, as Notion, is a 
concrete universal which immediately sunders itself into par- 
ticularity and yet remains universal. As concrete it contains, 
and is, all the categories. 


322. Formal Logic lays down its doctrine of terms — to 
which Hegel's Notion as Notion here corresponds. It then 
asserts, without rhyme or reason, that besides notions or con- 
cepts, there are judgments, and it proceeds to classify, arrange, 


and divide judgments in the same arbitrary and unprincipled 
way, treating the different forms of judgment as mere facts, 
which are so, but for which no reason can be given. And in 
the same empirical way, having finished its doctrine of judg- 
ments, it proceeds to assert that there are syllogisms, and that 
syllogisms are of such and such kinds. 

The Hegelian procedure is wholly different. In the spheres 
of being and essence Hegel did not give, as Kant had done, 
a mere irrational catalogue of categories empirically picked up 
and stuck down in any order. He systematically deduced the 
categories from one another. In just the same way he deduces 
the judgment from the Notion, and the syllogism from the 
judgment, and the different kinds of judgment and syllogism 
are all deduced in their proper places as ascending stages in 
the self- evolution of the Notion. 

323. The Notion, therefore, passes necessarily into the 
judgment. The logical transition from the former to the latter 
has now to be exhibited. The judgment issues from the 
moment of singularity. The singular, as the return of the 
Notion into itself, is the negation of the negation, or absolute 
negativity. Hence the distinctions of universal and particular 
are merged and disappear in it, and it is, therefore, an im- 
mediacy. As an immediacy it is an independent existence, for 
immediacy is the same as independence (238, 239), Thesingular 
is at the same time a totality, for it includes the universal and 
the particular within itself. It is the totality of the Notion, 
and is thus an independent self-enclosed whole. But the 
particular and the universal are each the very same totality, 
for each of them is identical with the singular. Each is, 
therefore, an immediate independent totality. Thus the 
original unity of the Notion suffers diremption into these three 
totalities, each of which is independent of the others. It is 
the factor of independence which produces this diremption. 
The moments of the Notion, formerly absolutely identical, 
have fallen apart into independence of each other. This 
differentiation, splitting, diremption, of the unity of the Notion 
into independent totalities is the judgment. 1 It should be 

1 See § 239 above. 


noted that the differentiation is not introduced into the Notion 
by us. The Notion of its own activity differentiates itself. 
It is by its own movement that it becomes the judgment, 
and this, as we have seen, is the proper character of a logical 

This truth is indicated in the German word for judgment, 
Urtheil. Etymologically, Urtheil means the original parting, 
splitting up, discernment, of a primary unity. 

324. What is, in the Notion, merely implicit, becomes ex- 
plicit in the judgment. The Notion, as we have seen, is 
constituted by three factors which are both distinct and 
identical. The element of distinction, the falling asunder of 
the three factors, is emphasized in the judgment, yet the 
element of unity is not wanting. Every judgment asserts 
both the difference and the identity of the factors of the 
Notion. Thus in the proposition 11 This rose is red " — u this 
rose " is a singular or individual, while " red n is a universal. 
Thus the logical content of the proposition, apart from its 
empirical filling, is : 

The singular is the universal. 

We have here, first of all, the separation and difference of the 
singular and the universal. They are the two extremes of 
the judgment, and are posited as different from one another. 
The subject is distinct from the predicate. If this were not 
so, if no difference were alleged, we should have merely an 
identical proposition such as 41 the rose is the rose." But 
while the difference is thus asserted, the identity is also ex- 
pressly stated in the copula. The judgment states that the 
subject is the predicate. Other kinds of judgment, with 
which we shall shortly meet, give us the truths that " The 
particular is the universal " and 41 The singular is the par- 
ticular." In this way what was implicit in the Notion, namely 
the difference and identity of its factors, is explicitly specified 
in the ascending grades of the judgment. 

325. The present seems a suitable opportunity to clear up 
a difficulty which is apt to puzzle the beginner at Hegel. We 
have seen that all the categories in the Logic are said to apply, 


not merely to this or that part of reality, but to all reality 
(169). But one might think that the categories of the sub- 
jective Notion do not apply to everything, but only to con- 
sciousness, or subjective thought. The Notion, the judgment, 
the syllogism, are, as ordinarily understood, forms of subjective 
thought, and no more. This, however, is to misconceive Hegel. 
The categories of the Notion, like all others, are universal in 
their scope. Hegel expressly states that 14 all things are a 
judgment," 1 and later that 14 everything is a syllogism." 2 
And it is equally true that everything is the Notion. For 
everything that exists is an individual thing, a singular, and 
its nature consists in the fact that it is a combination of 
universal and particular. 44 This book here before me M is a 
singular, an individual book. It is a universal for it is a 
member of the class 44 book." And it is a particular because 
it is 44 here before me." When these factors of its being 
are explicitly put as separate and yet identical, as when 
we say 44 What is before me is a book," it is then a judgment. 
Similar remarks apply to the syllogism as we shall see in due 

That everything is the Notion is also implicit in the philo- 
sophy of Aristotle, for whom every individual thing (singular) 
was a compound of matter and form. Matter is the particular, 
form the universal. 

Or it may be admitted that the categories of the Notion 
apply only to thought and not to things. But in that case 
it must be added that the very meaning of the doctrine of the 
Notion is that the universe is no longer regarded as a collection 
of things. We have passed the stage of science with its 
categories of thing, force, matter, and the like. All existence 
is now viewed as being essentially and inherently nothing but 
thought. This is the essential point of view of the Notion, 
which is the stage, not of science, but of philosophy. Every 
category gives us a definition both of the world and of the 
Absolute. The definitions which issue from the Notion are 
that the world is thought, and that the Absolute is subject. 
Hence the forms of thought, the Notion, the judgment, the 
1 Wal.. Log, § 167. ■ Wal., Log., § 181. 



syllogism, are essentially the forms of all reality and of the 
Absolute itself. 

326. The judgment develops itself through four ascending 
stages, (1) the qualitative judgment, (2) the judgment of 
reflection, (3) the judgment of necessity, and (4) the judgment 
of the Notion. (It will be noticed that Hegel here abandons 
the usual triadic division.) 

Sub-Section I 


327. In the judgment the factors of the Notion have fallen 
asunder. They are now independent and indifferent to one 
another. Thus the judgment is the going forth of the Notion 
into otherness. In the syllogism it returns to itself and the 
factors are there clasped together again in an absolute identity. 
The different kinds of judgment, therefore, constitute an 
evolution, a gradual movement from the complete inde- 
pendence of the notional factors, with which we begin, 
back to their self-identity which is finally reached in the 

The first form of judgment is, therefore, that in which the 
factors of singularity and universality, the subject and the 
predicate are independent, unrelated, and indifferent to one 
another. This is the same as saying that we begin with the 
immediate judgment. This is the judgment of quality. It is, 

A. The Affirmative Judgment 

328. The general form of this judgment is 

The singular is the universal. 

Both terms are immediate. The immediate singular is an 
individual object, such as 41 the rose." The immediate uni- 
versal is the universal which is not mediated, which does not 
contain the particular and the singular ; hence it is the abstract 
universal. And because it is a universal which is isolated and 
not truly related to the subject, it is accordingly some isolated 


property or, quality, of the subject. Hence at this stage we 
get such a judgment as 

The rose is red. 

The redness has no necessary or intrinsic connection with 
the rose. It is merely an accidental property which is, so to 
speak, stuck into the rose as a matter of chance, and inheres 
in it. There is no necessity why the rose should be red. The 
notions of rose and redness have no logical connection with 
each other, and it is here that the immediacy of this kind of 
judgment comes to light, since between the subject and predi- 
cate there is no real relation. 1 This is the affirmative 

B. The Negative Judgment 

329. The affirmative judgment asserts that the singular is 
the universal. But since they have in fact proved to be quite 
unconnected with each other, or to be connected only by 
an external tie of inherence, since they lie thus apart and 
isolated, the assertion of their identity, which is the essential 
meaning of the affirmative judgment, turns out to be false. 
Hence the truth rather is that 

The singular is not the universal, 

e.g. that the rose is not red. This is the negative judgment. 

Not-universal, or not-red, cannot be taken here in the 
barren and empty sense of the logical contradictories of 
universal and red, — as when we say that the mind is not-red. 
It must mean " not red, but some other colour." And this 
gives us the judgment that 41 the rose is some colour," which 
is equivalent to 

The singular is the particular. 

The necessity of taking the not-universal in this sense lies 
in the fact that we are not now in the sphere of empty names, 
but in that of the concrete Notion. If the singular is not the 
universal, it cannot be the empty contradictory not-universal, 
for that would place it outside the sphere of the Notion 
1 See § 239 above. 



altogether. Hence if it is not the universal it must be the 
other factor of the Notion, the particular. 

Thus the negative judgment is just as much an affirmative 
judgment, or is capable of being expressed in the affirmative 
form, the singular is the particular. 

C. The Infinite Judgment. 

330. Because the negative judgment is also an affirmative 
judgment, it is therefore just as false as the affirmative judg- 
ment, and for the very same reason. It is now asserted that 
the singular is the particular, but these extremes, though 
asserted to be identical, are in fact unrelated. It is not now 
said that the rose is red. But it is alleged that the rose is 
coloured. But its colour is just as much a mere accidental 
quality of the rose as its redness was. We now merely assert 
of the rose the general sphere of colour without naming any 
individual colour. But this does not affect the indifference 
and irrelevancy of the predicate to the subject. 

The affirmative judgment asserted some individual quality 
(redness) of the subject. The negative judgment negated this 
individual quality, but still allowed that the general sphere 
to which that quality belonged (colour) might be predicated 
of the subject. But since the negative judgment turns out to 
be as false as the affirmative, what we have now before us as 
the proximate truth is that some general sphere, some uni- 
versal, is totally denied of the subject altogether. The subject 
will be, as before, an individual object. The predicate will be 
some universal which has absolutely no connection whatever 
with the subject, and which is utterly incompatible with it. 
This is the infinite judgment, such as " The mind is not an 
elephant," " A lion is not a table," 41 The mind is not red." 

331. The infinite judgment is the last form of the judgment 
of quality. But before we pass to the next sphere of judg- 
ment, it may be useful to illustrate, with Hegel's own examples, 
the fact, already stated, that the judgment applies not only 
to subjective thought, but to all reality, so that "everything 
is a judgment." The negative judgment and the infinite 


judgment differ in this, that the former denies only a particular 
quality of the subject while admitting the general sphere to 
which that quality belongs, whereas the infinite judgment 
denies even the general sphere. Crime, according to Hegel, 
is an infinite judgment, whereas a cause of action in a civil 
suit is a negative judgment. Thus in a civil dispute as to 
the ownership of a land the complaining party does not deny 
the law of ownership in general ; on the contrary he asserts that 
law, and bases his claim upon it ; but he denies the particular 
right of the defendant. But the thief, on the other hand, 
negates the law of ownership altogether, and his act is therefore 
an infinite judgment. 1 Similarly disease is merely a negative, 
while death is an infinite judgment. " In disease merely this 
or that function of life is checked or negatived : in death, as 
we ordinarily say, body and soul part, i.e. subject and predicate 
utterly diverge." 2 

Sub-Section II 

332. The infinite judgment now purports to be the truth. 
But the fact is that, so far is it from being a true judgment, 
that it is not a judgment at all. It is a mere nonsensical con- 
glomeration of words. Empirically this appears as the utter 
triviality and senselessness of saying, for example, that the 
mind is not an elephant. But that the infinite judgment is, 
in fact, not a judgment at all, is more evident if we consider 
it abstractly as pure thought. For it expresses only total 
opposition between subject and predicate, between singular 
and universal. The subject has now no connection whatever 
with the predicate. And the predicate having thus broken 
completely loose from the subject, the subject is left standing 
by itself, isolated, a mere self-related singular, which utterly 
excludes its other from itself. But a judgment must assert 
some relation between subject and predicate. And as there 
is here no relation at all, this is a judgment which is no judg- 

1 See also § 548 below. 2 Wal., Log., § 173 Z. 



This self-contradiction of the infinite judgment forces us 
onwards to a new sphere. Since the subject is now an isolated 
individual, what it excludes, namely the predicate, is something 
completely other than itself. But even exclusion is, after all, 
a relation. So we reach the idea of a judgment the predicate 
of which expresses the relation of the subject to what is other 
than it. And since this otherness is not determined as any 
particular other, it can only be otherness in general, — a world 
of other objects. This is the judgment of reflection. Its 
predicate, instead of being some isolated quality, such as red, 
hot, scented, etc., is such an adjective as 11 useful," 4t dan- 
gerous," " wholesome," etc. Such predicates express the 
relation of the subject to other things, or to the world in 
general. If we say " this house is useful," this expressed the 
relation of the house to human needs. And the same is true 
of such a proposition as " This body is heavy " — which means 
that it possesses a gravitational relation to the earth. Because 
such judgments express relativity, connectedness of things, 
mediation, in place of the immediacy of the qualitative judg- 
ment, they therefore correspond to the sphere of essence and 
are called judgments of reflection. 

A. The Singular Judgment. 

333. The subject of the qualitative judgment was the 
singular. In the above transition to judgments of reflection 
it is only the predicate which has undergone any change. 
Hence the subject remains the same as it was, the predicate, 
however, now expressing relativity. This gives us the singular 
judgment which applies such a predicate as " useful " to a 
single individual. 44 This house is useful." This again has the 
form 11 The singular is the universal." 

B. The Particular Judgment 

334. The singular judgment is false for precisely the same 
reason as the affirmative judgment was false. Both state 
that the singular is the universal. But " useful," 44 heavy " 
and the like are just as much accidental qualities of the 


object as redness, or sweetness. There is no necessary con- 
nection between subject and predicate. If we are to attain 
truth, the predicate must state the essential inner nature of 
the subject, so that the connection between the two is im- 
manent and necessary. The subject will then be a singular 
and the predicate will be the same thing, i.e. the inner nature 
of the thing, expressed, however, as a universal, and the two 
terms will be thus genuinely identical as the judgment states 
them to be. But at present this statement that the judgment 
makes is untrue. 44 Usefulness " and 44 heaviness " are no 
more the essential nature of the object than redness is. Hence 
it is not true at this stage that the singular is the universal. 
The truth rather is, again, that the singular is not universal. 
Then what is the universal, if it is not the singular ? It must 
be the particular, and this gives us 

The particular is the universal, 

e.g. Some houses are useful. This is the particular judgment, 

335. It will be noticed that, whereas in the qualitative 
judgment, when it was found that the first form of it was 
false this negation attached to the predicate, now the negation 
is said to attach to the subject. In qualitative judgments 
when it appeared that the singular is not the universal, we 
deduced the judgment that the singular is the particular (329). 
Now, on the same ground, we deduce that the particular is the 
universal. Formerly from 44 the rose is not red M we concluded 
that 41 the rose is some other colour." But at present from 
44 This house is not useful, " we deduce 41 Not this, but some 
other houses, are useful. 1 ' The negation in the negative judg- 
ment changed the predicate from universal to not-universal, 
i.e. particular. Here the negation changes the subject from 
singular to not-singular, i.e. particular. 

336. As I am unable to understand the justification for 
Hegel's apparently arbitrary procedure here I give it in his 
own words. In the Greater Logic he says 44 since the reflective 
judgment is not merely an affirmative one, the negation does 
not directly affect the predicate, which does not inhere but is 
the intrinsic. It is the subject instead which is liable to 



alteration and determination. " 1 In the Encyclopaedia he says, 
" To say 1 This plant is wholesome,' implies not only that this 
single plant is wholesome, but that some or several are so. 
We have thus the particular judgment (some plants are 
wholesome. . . . etc.)." 2 

337. According to Dr. McTaggart 3 the reason why Hegel 
now regards the change as affecting the subject instead of 
the predicate is as follows. In the qualitative judgment we 
found that, though it stated that the singular is the universal, 
this turned out to be false. We therefore altered the predicate 
to try and make it fit the subject. This has now been found 
to be fruitless. It has not yielded us the correspondence of 
the terms which we seek. Accordingly, we now, in the judg- 
ment of reflection, try the experiment of progressively altering 
the subject to try and make it fit the predicate. But the 
objection to this explanation is that the dialectic is not, or 
ought not to be, a progress brought about by experiments made 
by us. No doubt it is the self-contradiction of a category which 
forces us onward to the next category in which that contradic- 
tion is resolved. But the new category must not be merely 
found by a subjective casting about on our part for a category 
which happens to solve the contradiction, and which we there- 
fore bring from outside to meet the case. The old category 
must itself produce the new one. And it is this latter point 
which is the difficulty here. Dr. McTaggart's interpretation 
may correctly represent Hegel. But if so Hegel has not given a 
genuine deduction. 

C. The Universal Judgment 

338. The particular judgment is as much negative as 
positive. " Some men are happy " implies that some men are 
not happy. 4 Therefore this proposition gives no information 
about the individual, for any individual man may belong either 
to the some who are happy or to the some who are not. Now 

1 Macran, p. 207. *Wal., Log., § 175 Z. 8 Corn., § 198. 

4 Whether " some " is to be taken as meaning " some only," as Hegel 
here takes it, is a disputed point in the ordinary text-books of logic. 
Most writers disagree with Hegel. 


the problem here is to make the singular fit the universal. 
Because the singular does not, as given in the singular judg- 
ment, fit the universal, we raised it to particularity. And as it 
now appears that the extension of the singular to the particular 
fails to solve the problem, we must again extend the particular 
in turn to the universal. This gives us the universal judgment, 

41 All men are mortal, unhappy, fallible, etc." 
Sub-Section III 


339. The subject of the judgment is now marked by uni- 
versality or allness. As it first appears (1) this universality 
is merely subjective, that is to say, it is merely we who collect 
all the individuals of a class together, and label them 11 all." 
But (2) this universality is in reality objective, for it con- 
stitutes a genus, and is as such the essential nature, the 
foundation, of the individuals, without which the individuals 
could have no existence. All men, it seems, possess a charac- 
teristic which the lower animals lack, i.e. they have ear-lobes. 1 
But the possession of ear-lobes by Smith or Brown is evidently 
a mere accidentality which has no connection with their 
essential characteristics. They would still be essentially what 
they are, namely men, even if they had no ear-lobes. But the 
universality which is implied in such a phrase as " all men " 
is different. Smith and Brown could not be pious, musical, 
rational, brave, etc., if they were not men. To be men, this 
is their essential inner nature, and this universality is not 
merely something external which we subjectively attach to 
them. It is, on the contrary, their essential objectivity ; it 
is that whereby they are. This change from subjectivity to 
objectivity is indicated in language when instead of saying 
M all men we say " man " — Man is mortal, fallible, etc. 

1 This illustration is, I am informed, incorrect. The higher anthropoid 
apes possess ear-lobes. But the ear-lobe attains its greatest develop- 
ment in size in the human being. Presumably this is what Hegel refers 
to. In any case, of course, the incorrectness of Hegel's illustration does 
not affect the validity of his argument. 



This gives us a new kind of judgment in which the subject 
is a species such as man, rose, etc., and the predicate is a 
genus. Examples of such judgments are, The rose is a plant, 
The lion is an animal. 

This is the judgment of necessity. In the qualitative judg- 
ment, and even in the judgment of reflection, we saw that 
the predicate was attached to the subject by no necessary 
bond of connection, but in a merely contingent and accidental 
manner. It may be a/a^, that the rose is red, but no one can 
see any essential reason for it. But the rose must be a plant, 
for if not it could not be a rose. It might well be a rose 
without being red, but it could not possibly be a rose without 
being a plant. To be red is a mere chance character of the 
rose. To be a plant is its essential nature. We have here a 
great advance in the evolution of the judgment. All judg- 
ments assert the identity of subject and predicate. But as 
the judgment first came before us this assertion was untrue. 
In the qualitative judgment the factors of the Notion lay 
apart, indifferent to one another. The rose and its redness 
have no real relation to each other, much less identity. Hence 
that kind of judgment was false because it asserted a relation 
between a subject and a predicate which are really unrelated. 
But now, in the judgment of necessity, the subject and predi- 
cate have become more closely knit in a relation of necessity. 
The rose and its redness are indifferent to one another. But 
the rose and its being a plant are essentially connected, and 
nowise indifferent. 

340. The first form of the judgment of necessity is 

A. The Categorical Judgment 

The categorical judgment simply asserts the necessary con- 
nection between species and genus, e.g. " the rose is a plant." 

B. The Hypothetical Judgment 

341. Because the relation between the subject and the 
predicate is now a bond of necessity, therefore the latter 
depends upon the former. Hence the judgment may now be 


stated " // there is a rose, there is a plant " — or in general, 
// A is, B is. This is the hypothetical judgment. 

C, The Disjunctive Judgment 

342. What is really stated in the hypothetical judgment is 
that the existence of the genus depends on the existence of 
the species. If there is a rose, there is a plant. In other 
words, the genus has no existence apart from its species. The 
universal only exists in the particular. Plants are not some- 
thing different from roses, lilies, daisies, etc. The same thing 
is taken now in its universality (genus) and now in its par- 
ticularity (species). This brings out the essential defect of 
the hypothetical judgment, which is that it asserts the de- 
pendence of the genus on only one of its species, instead of 
on all. If there is a rose, there is a plant. But it is equally 
true that, if there is a lily, there is a plant. The existence of 
plants does not depend on the existence on one species, the 
rose, but upon the existence of all the species. 

The recognition of this defect gives us at once the dis- 
junctive judgment which states that the genus is the same 
thing as the sum of its species. Plants are roses, lilies, daisies, 
etc. Or, a plant is either a rose, or a lily, or . . . etc. A is 
either B or C or D. 

What has especially to be noted here is that the identity of 
subject and predicate, which all judgments assert, is for the 
first time true in the disjunctive judgment. The subject is 
the genus, the predicate is the sum of the species. But the 
genus is the same thing as the sum of its species. The same 
thing is twice put, once in its universality in the subject, and 
again in its particularity in the predicate. 

Sub-Section IV 


343. Because the subject and predicate are now identical 
in their difference we have before us again the genuine unity 
in difference and difference in unity — in a word, the Notion. 


The factors of the Notion which had fallen asunder have now 
returned to self-identity. 

But the disjunctive judgment, although it exhibits the 
identity of the universal and the particular (genus and species), 
has the defect that it leaves the singular out in the cold. It 
shows that the universal has its being only in the particulars, 
but we have still to see that its being descends even into the 
single individuals. In other words we have still to find a 
universal predicate which is absolutely identical with the 
singular subject, this rose, this picture. The judgment which 
performs this work is the judgment of the Notion. Such a 
judgment must have a singular for its subject and a universal 
for its predicate, yet the two must be identical. The predicate 
must be the same thing taken in its universality as the subject 
was when taken in its singularity. In other words the predi- 
cate must be simply the essential and universal nature of the 
subject. The judgment must state the agreement or disagree- 
ment of the subject with its own essential nature — with its 
universal concept, with what it ought to be. It must show 
that the individual, which is the subject, is in harmony or 
out of harmony with its proper character. The predicate is 
thus the ideal to which the subject, if it is what it purports 
to be, must conform, and the judgment states whether it does 
so conform or not. Thus the essential universal nature of 
man is his reason^ and a judgment which states that a man is 
or is not rational, will tell us whether he is what the essential 
notion of him implies that he must be ; it will tell us whether 
this man is truly a man. That a man is snub-nosed is irrelevant 
to his manhood. He is still a man, snub-nosed or not. But 
that a man is irrational destroys his essential manhood, because 
reason is the very essence of man. Hence to say, " this man 
is rational/' is the same as saying, " this man is a man," — 
not in the sense of an empty identity, but as importing his 
conformity with his ideal. But in saying that this man is a 
man we are saying that this man (singular) is a man (universal). 
Thus the subject and predicate are distinct as being respectively 
singular and universal. And yet they are absolutely identical 
since it is " man " that appears both as subject and predicate. 



Hence in the judgment of the Notion the predicate is always a 
term which implies conformity with a rational ideal— this 
picture is (or is not) beautiful, this action is (or is not) good t 
just, noble. 

344. The judgment of the Notion appears first as 

A. The Assertoric Judgment 

The assertoric judgment simply asserts conformity or non- 
conformity with the ideal. This action is good, bad, right, etc. 

B. The Problematic Judgment 

345. The assertoric judgment merely asserts that the subject 
is or is not what it ought to be. But no ground for this 
assertion is given. This picture is beautiful, but I cannot 
say why. It is merely my opinion. Hence it is at once 
confronted with the contrary assertion : this picture is ugly. 
This contrary judgment has as much right to be asserted as 
the original judgment, because, in truth, neither of them has 
any right, both being mere assertions. It is, therefore, doubtful 
which judgment is true, and this gives us the problematic 
judgment, e.g. this picture may (or may not) be beautiful. 

C. The Apodeictic Judgment. 

346. The subject of the problematic judgment is a con- 
iingency. It may or may not conform to the ideal. Hence 
it becomes evident that it only conforms or does not conform 
because it contains within itself some ground in the nature of 
its constitution for this conformity or non- conformity. Hence 
we get such propositions as, This action, being so and so 
constituted, is right, This picture, being thus and thus painted 
is beautiful. The subject is now raised from contingency to 
necessity. The picture must be beautiful because it is thus 
and thus painted. Or to put it otherwise the beauty of the 
picture is grounded in the nature of the picture itself. It is 
self-grounded. And to be self-grounded is to be necessary. 
Hence such a judgment is an apodeictic judgment. 

This judgment asserts that the singular (this picture) is 
identical with the universal (beautiful) through and by means 


of the particular (being thus and thus painted). It contains, 
therefore, the three factors of the Notion, distinct and yet 
merged in absolute identity. Hence it is the perfect judgment, 
the truth of judgment in general. 



347. The singular is now identical with the universal 
through and by means of the particular. Thus the particular 
appears as a middle term which mediates between the two 
extremes, singular and universal. This is the first form of 
the Syllogism. Every syllogism contains three terms. Of 
these the one that is widest in its scope is the universal. A 
narrower term is included within the wider and this is the 
particular. A still narrower term is subsumed under the 
particular, and this is the singular. Thus in the syllogism 

Green is pleasant, 
This fruit is green, 
Therefore, this fruit is pleasant, 

the widest term, pleasant, is the universal, green is the par- 
ticular, and this fruit is the singular. Thus, using the symbols 
S, P, U, for singular, particular, and universal respectively, 
this syllogism may be represented as 


The particular is the middle term which mediates between the 
singular and the universal, and unites them in the conclusion. 
The same thing may be more briefly expressed in the formula, 
S - P - U, which Hegel adopts. 

348. In the Notion as Notion we had the factors of singular- 
ity, particularity, and universality, lying in a primitive and as 
yet undifferentiated unity. In the judgment the Notion differ- 
entiated its factors into diversity. In the syllogism the moment 



of diversity is preserved in the fact that the moments of the 
Notion appear as the extremes, while their unity is posited in 
the middle term. Thus the syllogism is the synthesis of the 
Notion and the judgment. 

349. The judgment, from the emphasis it laid on difference 
and diversity, was recognized as the product of the under- 
standing. The syllogism, as expressing the unity of the 
extremes, or, in other words, the identity of opposites, is the 
special form of reason. But it is not to be regarded as a 
merely subjective form of thought. Like the judgment, it is 
objective. Everything is a syllogism. Or, more correctly, 
because the syllogism is the form of reason, therefore every- 
thing rational, i.e. everything actual, is a syllogism. Thus the 
syllogism, like every other category, is a definition of the 
Absolute. The Absolute, or God, is a syllogism. God, re- 
garded as abstract universal, is the Logical Idea. But God 
is not merely this empty abstract universal. This universal 
goes out of itself into particularity, which is nature, and returns 
to itself in the singularity of concrete spirit. Similarly such 
actualities as the infinite, the unconditioned, the supersensuous, 
freedom, right, and duty, are syllogisms because they do not 
remain empty and abstract universals, but differentiate them- 
selves, and appear through particularity as this freedom, this 
duty, this right, etc. 

350. The phases of the syllogism are (1) the qualitative 
syllogism, (2) the syllogism of reflection, (3) the syllogism of 
necessity. As these names indicate, the evolution of the 
syllogism is largely parallel to the evolution of the judgment. 

Sub-Section I 


351. The syllogism first appears as immediate. Hence though 
it asserts the identity of its extremes through the mediation 
of the middle term, this identity is in fact delusive, and the 
terms remain mutually indifferent and unrelated. 1 Such a 
syllogism is the qualitative syllogism. 

1 See § 239 above. 


A. The First Figure, S- P - V. 

352. As already explained (347) the syllogism first appears 
under the schema S - P - U, where the particular is the 
middle term. This is the first figure. The singular is sub- 
sumed under a wider term, the particular. This again is 
subsumed under the universal, giving us the conclusion that 
the singular is subsumed under the universal. Or, 

Pis U, 
S is P, 
Therefore, S is U. 

The singular and universal find their identity in the particular. 
For in relation to the universal the particular is the subject 
(i.e. in the major premiss) and is therefore singular. In 
relation to the singular it is predicate (in the minor premiss) 
and is therefore universal. Thus as being both singular and 
universal it is the unity of the extremes. 

Because this is the immediate syllogism, therefore, just as 
in the case of the qualitative judgment, its terms are indifferent 
and unrelated in spite of the relation which the syllogism 
alleges (327, 328). The singular is an individual object, this 
rose, that house. The particular is some isolated quality which 
happens to inhere in this individual, its redness, its odour, its 
shape. The universal is again some isolated quality which 
happens to attach to the particular. Hence we get such a 
syllogism as 

Green is pleasant, 
This fruit is green, 
Therefore, it is pleasant. 

It is a mere fact that the fruit is green. There is no necessary 
or logical connection between the colour and the fruit. And 
it is a mere fact that green is pleasant, and there is no essential 
reason for it. All the terms are mutually indifferent. 

B. Second Figure^ P-S- U. 

353. The defect of this first figure is that it thus asserts a 
relation between unrelated terms. Hence it is a matter of 


mere chance which one of the many isolated qualities of the 
subject I pick out to act as a middle term, and it is equally 
contingent which quality of the middle I pick out as the 
predicate with which it is to connect the subject. By choosing 
the greenness of the fruit as the middle term and the pleasant- 
ness of green as the predicate I arrive at the conclusion that 
the fruit is pleasant But by choosing some other qualities 
I might equally have proved that it is unpleasant. E.g. 

Poisonous things are unpleasant, 
This fruit is poisonous, 
Therefore, this fruit is unpleasant. 

The whole procedure is utterly capricious. If pleasantness 
were the essential nature of green, instead of being a mere 
chance character of it, then green things would, in all circum- 
stances, be pleasant. Then our syllogism would be true. 
But, as it is, the chance character of pleasantness is liable to 
be destroyed by any other chance quality, such as being 
poisonous. Hence it is the fact that there is no real connection 
between the terms that is the defect here. Hence our middle 
term, green, or poisonous, or whatever it be, though it purports 
to be particular, is in fact treated by this syllogism as a de- 
tached quality, a single isolated immediacy, a singular. Hence 
the truth of this syllogism will be better expressed by frankly 
admitting the middle term to be what in fact it is, a singular. 
This will give us a new syllogism, P-S-U. This is the 
second figure. 

The same result is evident from another consideration. In 
the first figure the conclusion S-U is not an immediate 
connection of S and U, for it has been mediated by P. But the 
premisses, which are S - P and P - U, have not been mediated 
by anything and are merely immediate connections of these 
terms. Such immediate relations are inconsistent with the 
nature of syllogism, the essence of which is that in it any two 
factors of the Notion are mediated by the third. Hence the 
premiss P - U must be mediated, and as the only factor 
available for the purpose is S, the syllogism will run P - S - U, 
which is the second figure. The other premiss S - P must be 



mediated by U giving the syllogism S-U-P, which, as we 
shall see, is the third figure. 

The necessity for. thus mediating the premisses of the first 
figure is usually expressed by saying that the premisses of a 
syllogism themselves require proof, e.g. may themselves be the 
conclusions of anterior syllogisms. 

The middle term is now the singular. Each of the other 
two terms, therefore, is wider than the middle term, and each 
premiss will therefore state that the middle term is sub- 
sumed under one of the other two. Hence the singular will 
in both cases be the subject thus : 


Now this only alters the order of the terms, and not their 
character as merely immediate contingencies. The singular 
will as before be an individual object, and the other two terms 
will be random qualities which happen to be united by both 
inhering in the same subject thus : 

This fruit is pleasant, 
This fruit is green, 
Therefore, green is pleasant. 

It will be observed, as regards the order of the terms, that 
this Hegelian second figure is not the second, but the third, 
figure of Formal Logic. The conclusion P is U, since its 
subject is the particular, indicates the common rule of the 
third figure in the text-books, namely, that the conclusion in 
this figure must be particular. 

The conclusion of this figure is the major premiss of the 
first figure, 44 Green is pleasant," or P is U. Thus this figure 
remedies the defect of the former figure that in it the relation 
P-U was unmediated. 

C. Third Figure, S-U-P. 

354. The second figure has a mediated conclusion P-U. 
Its major premiss S-U is also mediated, for S-U is what 


was proved in the first figure by the mediation of P. But its 
minor premiss S-P is still unmediated. It can only be 
mediated by U, and this gives us the third figure S - U - P. 

We may arrive at the same result by considering the content 
instead of the form. The second figure concluded that be- 
cause two qualities, such as green and pleasant, both inhere 
in the same subject, such as this fruit, therefore they inhere 
in each other. Thus the middle term is regarded as what is 
merely common to the extremes. It is not this fruit in its 
full concreteness, with its multitudes of other qualities, that 
we have before us, but a mere abstraction, which drops out 
the manifold of qualities and is merely an abstract meeting 
place of these extremes. And because it is this abstraction, 
this mere common element, it is therefore not a true singular at 
all, but an abstract universal. Hence the syllogism P - S - U 
purports to have the singular for its middle but this singular 
is really the universal. And this result will be expressed by 
explicitly putting the universal as the middle term, which 
gives us the third figure S - U - P. 

This will yield such a syllogism as 

Green is pleasant, 
This fruit is pleasant, 
Therefore, it is green, 

which, as far as the order of its terms is concerned, will be 
recognized as the second figure of Formal Logic. The above 
syllogism is invalid, because in this figure one of the premisses 
and the conclusion must be negative, to avoid an undis- 
tributed middle. This fact openly exposes the defect of the 
qualitative syllogism as a whole. This syllogism could only 
be valid if we could say, not merely that green is pleasant, 
but that green is the only thing which is pleasant, i.e. that 
everything pleasant is green. That we cannot do so is due 
to the fact that greenness and pleasantness have no necessary 
connection with each other, i.e. it is due to the immediate 
character of the qualitative syllogism as a whole. Not only 
this figure but all the figures suffer from the same defect, 
which has to be remedied in a latter phase of the syllogism. 



D. The Mathematical Syllogism, U - U - U. 

355. The singular, the particular, and the universal have 
each in turn appeared as the middle term. Each figure has 
for its conclusion one of the premisses of the other figures. 
Thus each figure presupposes the other two. This may be 
regarded as removing that defect of the qualitative syllogism 
which consists in the fact that though its conclusion is mediated 
its premisses are not. But the vital defect of this kind of 
syllogism still remains. It is a matter of perfect indifference 
which term is made the middle, for in each case the same 
defect, the utter disconnectedness of the terms, appears. The 
three factors from this point of view are all the same as one 
another, are identical, since each can replace the other, and 
this leads to a syllogism in which this pure indifference of the 
three terms to each other is fully expressed as merely mathe- 
matical equality. Since it makes no difference which term is 
made the middle or which the extremes, we can abstract from 
their qualitative difference altogether and regard them as 
three counters, any one of which can be indifferently sub- 
stituted for any other, just as in dealing with actual counters 
we should abstract from the fact that one might be red, 
another green, and another blue, and regard them all as simply 
counters, as identical. 

When all qualitative difference is thus neglected we get 
simply mathematical equality 

Therefore, A =C. 

or, as it may otherwise be stated, 11 If two things are equal 
to a third they are equal to one another. " Hegel expresses 
this relation by the schema U -U -U, and calls it the mathe- 
matical syllogism. 

Though Hegel treats this syllogism under the head of the 
qualitative syllogism, it does not properly come under that 
head, and he himself calls it elsewhere the quantitative 
syllogism. He also refers to it as the fourth figure. But it 


has of course no connection with the fourth figure of Formal 
Logic, which it will be remembered does not appear in Aristotle 
but is a later addition. Hegel, following Kant in this respect, 
repudiates the ordinary fourth figure of the syllogism as 
meaningless and futile, because it is merely an inversion of 
the first figure. 

Sub-Section II 


356. The mathematical syllogism, with its utter emptiness 
of notional content, is merely the negative result of the dialectic 
of the qualitative syllogism. But there is also a positive 
result. The three terms of the qualitative syllogism were 
isolated, disconnected, and exclusive of each other. They 
were merely abstract singularity, abstract particularity, 
abstract universality. Now each of these abstract forms has 
alternately been put as the middle, and each has failed to 
fulfil the function of the middle, namely, to be the concrete 
unity of the extremes ; so that the extremes still remain 
indifferent to each other. The positive result of this process 
is therefore that we must put as the middle, not any mere 
abstraction, but the concrete unity of the extremes. And as 
the extremes are, in the first instance, singularity and uni- 
versality, the middle will be a particular which combines in 
itself singularity and universality. Such a syllogism will be 
the syllogism of reflection because the factors of the Notion 
will not remain mere abstractions, but will genuinely mediate 
each other in the middle term. The first phase of the 
syllogism will be 

A. The Syllogism of Alines s y 

which Hegel also calls the syllogism of complete extension. 

357. In the syllogism of allness the middle term will be 
a particularity which consists of all the singulars. It will be 
such a term as all men. Because every individual man is 
denoted by this term it therefore contains singularity. Be- 



cause it contains all the individuals it is thereby universal. 
And because in such a syllogism as 

All men are mortal, 
Socrates is a man, 
Therefore, Socrates is mortal, 

the middle term is subsumed under the higher universal 
" mortal," it is therefore the particular. Hence the schema 
of this syllogism will be that of the first figure S -P -U. 

This syllogism remedies the defect of the qualitative 
syllogism. In that syllogism the middle term was a mere 
abstraction, a single quality of a concrete object, which had 
an indefinite number of other such qualities any one of which 
could be taken as the middle with the most contradictory 
results. The fruit was pleasant because green, and unpleasant 
because poisonous. But here the middle is no such single 
quality but is a totality of concrete objects, all 44 men," all 
" green things," etc. This middle, therefore, can only connect 
the subject with a universal which all subjects of that species 
possess, and no contradictions can arise. It is perfectly true 
that green is pleasant, but green is a mere abstract quality. 
If instead we had said 11 All green things are pleasant n we 
should immediately have thought of the poisonous fruit, 
green snakes, etc., and seen at once that this premiss is false. 
And so we should have been saved from the contradictions 
into which we then fell. This is precisely what is done in the 
syllogism of allness, which consequently removes the defect 
of the earlier syllogism. 1 

1 Dr. McTaggart (Com., § 215) argues that the supposed defect of the 
qualitative syllogism, whereby it leads to applying contradictory pre- 
dicates to the same subject, is not a defect at all, because what is really 
meant by " Green is pleasant " is " AU green things are pleasant/' which is, 
of course, false. But if the syllogism is stated in Dr. McTaggart's form 
it is not the qualitative syllogism at all, but the syllogism of reflection. 
That the syllogism put in that form has not this defect is precisely Hegel's 
point. The qualitative syllogism as given by Hegel certainly has the 
defect of which he accuses it. Dr. McTaggart says that the conclusion that 
the fruit is pleasant requires the premiss " All green things are pleasant." 
This is just what Hegel says too. And it is because it has not got the 
premiss it requires that it is defective. And it is because the syllogism 
of allness supplies the required premiss that it removes the defect. Dr. 
McTaggart seems to have been misled by supposing that the first figure 
of the qualitative syllogism corresponds in all ways to the first figure in 


B. The Syllogism of Induction. 

358. But the syllogism of allness has a defect of its own. 
Just because its major premiss alleges its predicate of all the 
singulars it thereby begs the question, and assumes the truth 
of its conclusion. To say that all men are mortal assumes 
that Socrates is mortal, for if he were not, then it would 
not be true that all men are mortal. The only remedy for 
this defect is to go through all men individually and show 
that each is mortal. We have to show that Caius is mortal, 
Cassius is mortal, Caesar is mortal, Brutus is mortal, and so 
on throughout the human race, and when this process is 
complete we shall then be able to assert that all men are 
mortal. This is inducton, and put in the form of a syllogism, 
it is P - S - U, - the second figure. More accurately it is 




ad infinitum. 

Here S stands for an individual man. P of course is the 
species (particular) man, while U is the higher universal, 
mortal. The two premisses will be 


(1) P-S 

i.e. All men are Caius, Cassius, Brutus, etc. ad infinitum ; and 


(2) S-U 

formal Logic. But the actual correspondence is confined wholly to the 
order of the terms. It is rather the syllogism of allness which really corre- 
sponds to the first figure in Formal Logic, as will be seen by the example 
given in this section — which is obviously a syllogism in Barbara. 



i.e. Caius is mortal, Cassius is mortal, etc. The conclusion will 
be P - U, or, all men are mortal. 

It will be noticed that the singular is here the middle, and 
that whereas the syllogism of allness was of the first figure 
S - P - U, the syllogism of induction is of the second figure, 
P - S - U. Nevertheless this singular is not the abstract 
singular of the second figure of the qualitative syllogism. 
For although it is singular, it is at the same time universal, 
because it comprises all the singulars. 

C. The Syllogism of Analogy. 

359. The syllogism of induction removes the defect of the 
syllogism of allness, but again develops a defect of its own. 
For it is obvious that it requires the complete enumeration 
of all the singulars ad infinitum, and this is impossible. Hence 
it assumes, after observing that all men so far known have 
died, that no exception can arise in the incompleted series to 
contradict that experience. But this can only be the case 
on the assumption that the genus man has mortality, not as 
a contingent quality, but as a necessary and essential part of 
his nature, that, in fact mortality is involved in the very 
notion of manhood. We must believe not merely that all 
the men observed happen, as a matter of fact, to be mortal, 
but rather that man is mortal because he is man. This gives 
us the syllogism of analogy, e.g. 

The earth is inhabited, 
The moon is an earth, 
Therefore, it is inhabited. 

This argument rests upon the assumption that the earth 
is inhabited, not for any accidental reason, but because it is 
an earth, from which it will follow that any other earth, such 
as the moon, will also be inhabited. This particular example 
of analogy is of course so superficial as to be wholly absurd. 
The fact that the earth is inhabited depends, not on its simply 
being an earth, but on its atmosphere and other circumstances 


which are absent in the moon. But the principle is correct. 
A better example would be 

I who talk and act am conscious, 
Caesar is a being who talks and acts, 
Therefore, he is conscious. 

Now the syllogism of induction was in the form P - S - U. 
In the syllogism of analogy the middle term is still a singular, 
e.g. the earth, but it is now a singular taken in its universal 
nature. The earth is not merely inhabited as being this 
individual earth, but as being an earth, i.e. a member of a 
genus, whose essential character it is to be inhabited. Since 
the singular has here, therefore, a universal significance, the 
middle term may be explicitly stated as what it essentially is, 
a universal. Hence the schema of this syllogism is S - U - P, 
- the third figure. Yet it is no longer an abstract universal, 
as in the qualitative syllogism, but is rather concrete inasmuch 
as it is also essentially singular. 

In the three phases of the syllogism of reflection, then, as 
in the qualitative syllogism, the middle term is alternately 
the particular, the singular, and the universal. 

Sub-Section III 


360. The syllogism of analogy has a defect similar to that 
of the syllogism of allness. Its conclusion is S - P, e.g. the 
moon is inhabited. But its major premiss is also S-P (e.g. 
the earth is inhabited). It is true that the singular which is 
the middle term and subject of the major premiss (in this 
example the earth) is taken in its universal nature, for which 
reason we have counted it as U. But it may equally be 
insisted that it is singular, and in that case, since the con- 
clusion is S - P, and the premiss is S - P, the premiss asssumes 
the truth of the conclusion. Or if we were explicitly to set 
this term in its universality, and say " All earths are in- 
habited,' 1 then the syllogism would be a syllogism of allness 
which, as we have already seen, assumes its conclusion. 



The syllogism of analogy comes under the schema S - U - P. 
But the defect pointed out means that the middle, though put 
as a universal, constantly relapses into singularity. This defect 
can only be removed by a syllogism of the form S - U - P 
in which the middle is out and out universal. Now we have 
already seen that in the syllogism of analogy the middle as 
the universal necessarily connects itself with the extremes. 
That syllogism rests upon the belief that, in the example 
chosen, the earth is inhabited, not for any extraneous or 
contingent reason, but necessarily, because it is an earth, 
because to be inhabited is necessarily involved in the notion 
of earth, and is part of its essential nature. The new syl- 
logism S - U - P will therefore have for its middle an out and 
out universal to which the extremes belong as a necessary 
part of its essential nature, and not as a mere contingent fact, 
so that this universal is in truth the foundation and very 
being of the extremes — in a word it will be the genus. This 
is the syllogism of necessity. 

A. The Categorical Syllogism. 

361. The first phase will be immediate. Although the 
extremes are necessarily connected with the middle, yet in 
this relation some element of immediacy, i.e. of contingency, 
vvill still linger. 1 The one extreme, as immediate, will be, 
as before, a concrete single object. If the middle is the genus 
man, this extreme will be some individual, e.g. Socrates. 
What is contingent here is that there is no reason why I 
should hit upon Socrates rather than any other individual 
member of the genus. What is necessary is that the genus 
man is the very foundation of the individual Socrates, without 
which he could not be what he is. To be a man is the essential 
nature of Socrates, which determines his whole being. It 
would have been different if we had subsumed him under some 
universal other than his essential genus, e.g. under " snub- 
no^ed beings/' for he could well be rational, brave, noble, 
free, without being snub-nosed, but he could be none of these 

1 See § 239 above. 


things without being a man. The other extreme will be some 
characteristic which necessarily belongs to the notion of man, 
such as rational, or free, or morally responsible, or capable of 
religion or art. The necessary connection here is obvious, 
and the contingency again lies in the fact that there is no 
reason why this rather than any of the other essential char- 
acters of man should be chosen. 
This procedure yields the categorical syllogism, for example, 

Man is rational, 
Socrates is a man, 
Therefore, Socrates is rational. 

The general schema of the syllogism of necessity is S - U - P. 
The middle term in the above syllogism, man, is a universal 
of the kind required. But in the categorical syllogism this 
universal appears as subsumed under a wider universal, in 
this case, rational. Hence in relation to this latter universal 
it is particular, and the special schema of the categorical 
syllogism will be S - P - U, which is the first figure. 

B. The Hypothetical Syllogism. 

362. The real result of the categorical syllogism is that 
the conjunction of the extremes depends upon the middle 
term, that, for example, Socrates is only rational in virtue 
of being a man. Since rationality is the special character of 
man as distinguished from the brutes, it is only if he is a 
man that Socrates is rational. This is explicitly stated in the 
hypothetical syllogism, 

If Socrates is a man, he is rational, 
He is a man, 
Therefore, he is rational. 

Here the middle term is not the genus man, but the fact of 
being a man as we see more clearly if we cast the syllogism 
in the awkward form 

Being a man is being rational, 

The being of Socrates is being a man, 

Therefore, etc. 


Because the middle is a fact, it is therefore an immediacy, 
and as an immediacy may be regarded as a singular, so that 
the schema of this syllogism is P - S - U, which is the second 

C. The Disjunctive Syllogism. 

363. The hypothetical syllogism states that the individual 
and the species are the same thing as the genus. Being a 
man and being rational are one and the same thing. Or 
again, the very being of Socrates is the being rational. But 
when it is stated in this form the defect of the hypothetical 
syllogism is exposed. No doubt the genus is the same thing 
as the species, but it is only identical with all its species 
taken together, not with one of them alone. And the species 
again is identical with all its individuals. This gives us the 
disjunctive syllogism in which the middle term is the genus 
(U) distributed into its species. The extremes are the species 
(Pj and the individual (S). The syllogism is thus of the form 
S ~ U - P, which is the third figure. 

To give an example of this, rational is the genus, man the 
species, Socrates the individual. The genus being wider than 
the species we must assume, for the sake of the example, 
that there are other rational beings besides men, e.g. angels. 
Our syllogism will then be 

Rational beings are either men or angels, 
Socrates who is a rational being is not an angel, 
Therefore, he is a man. 

Or it will be 

Rational beings are either men or angels, 
Socrates who is a rational being is a man, 
Therefore, he is not an angel. 



364. The factors of the Notion appeared first, in the Notion 
as Notion, in undifferentiated unity. In the judgment they 
fell asunder. The syllogism exhibited their mediation and 
return to unity. In the disjunctive syllogism this return to 
unity was completed. For firstly, the middle term is no 
longer an abstract universal, particular, or singular, but it 
is all these ; it is the concrete totality of the Notion. It is 
the genus, or universal, which explicitly states itself to be 
at the same time the totality of its species, or particulars — 
A (genus) which is B and C and D (species). And since this 
is also given in the form " A which is B or C or D," since, 
therefore, the species are given as mutually exclusive units, 
they are therefore at the same time the totality of the singulars. 
This syllogism contains, therefore, in its middle term, the 
absolute collapse of the factors of the Notion to unity. And 
their mediation has sunk to immediacy. 

In the second place, in the syllogism 

A is either B or C or D, 
But A is B, 
Therefore, A is not C or D, 

we find that A is the subject in each premiss and in the con- 
clusion. In the major premiss it is the universal, the genus, 
and is identified with the totality of its particulars. In the 
minor premiss it is a particular, a species. In the conclusion, 
because it is this individual A which excludes C and D, it is 
the singular. This syllogism thus exhibits A as the totality 
of the Notion. 



The mediation, which is the essential character of the 
syllogism, is thus merged, and in its place we have a being 
which is now immediate. Immediacy thus forms the funda- 
mental characteristic of the new sphere. Moreover the factors 
of the Notion, in the sphere of subjectivity, mediated, and in 
that way were dependent upon, one another. Each was only 
through the other. But now since mediation is annulled, 
dependence is also annulled. Hence we have a being which 
is immediate and independent. This is the category of the 
object. 1 Whatever is (1) immediate^ is there, and confronts 
thought as (2) an independent being, is described as an object. 
From subjectivity we have passed to objectivity. 

365. According to Dr. McTaggart 2 subjectivity and objec- 
tivity are not here used in the sense of inner and outer, of 
what is thought and what is not thought. Subjective, he 
thinks, means capricious, contingent, while objective means 
universal and necessary. Without denying that these mean- 
ings may have significance here, it does not seem to me that 
they are the most important. Subjective, he urges, 3 cannot 
mean merely the inner side, the side of thought, of the self 
as against the not-self, because Hegel expressly states that 
the categories of subjectivity, such as the judgment and 
the syllogism, apply not only to thought but to everything. 
" Everything is a syllogism." But the answer is that, from 
the point of view reached in the Notion, everything is thought. 
The first two divisions of the doctrine of the Notion, viz. 
the subjective Notion and the object, are, it must be remem- 
bered, one-sided and abstract, the concrete truth being reached 
only in the third division, the Idea. In the subjective Notion 
we reach the view that everything is thought, is subject. In 
the present division, we pass to the opposite view that every- 
thing is object. In the Idea, as we shall see, the truth emerges 
that everything is at once subject and object. 

It must not, of course, be supposed that in passing from 
subject to object we have left thought behind, and that we 
are no longer dealing with thoughts or categories. We have 
not here a transition from pure thought to the outward material 
1 See § 239 above. 2 Com.. § 233. 3 Ibid., § 184. 


world in the sense in which such a transition occurs at the 
end of the Logic, where we pass over to nature. We are still 
in the sphere of the Logical Idea, of pure thoughts or cate- 
gories. And objectivity, as Hegel points out, is just as much 
a thought as subjectivity. 1 What we are now dealing with 
is the universal and necessary idea of objectivity, the thought 
of the object. 

It may be objected that the transition to the object involves 
the abandonment of the point of view reached in the Notion, 
viz. that the universe is no longer regarded as a collection 
of things but as inherently nothing but thought. To regard 
the universe as object, and not as thought, is a return, it 
might be said, to the points of view of being and essence, to 
such categories as the thing and its properties. But an object 
is not the same as a thing. A thing, for all one could say to 
the contrary, might exist unrelated to a subject, as it is 
supposed to do in the theory of materialism. But the very 
word object means essentially the object of thought. The 
general point of view of the Notion is that the world is thought. 
But thought has two terms, subject and object. To complete 
the truth that the world is thought, it must be conceived as 
object quite as much as subject. And this is the point of 
view we have here reached. To say that a thing is an object 
means that it essentially exists only for a subject. And this 
is to say that it is thought, which is the point of view of 
the Notion. 2 

366. This consideration may also help us to understand 
the transition from the disjunctive syllogism to the object, 
1 Cf. above § 100, " Atoms are thoughts." 

* There is a passage (Wal., Log., § 193) which seems, at first sight, to tell 
against this interpretation. "That the object is also an object for us," 
says Hegel, there " will be more precisely seen, when it puts itself in con- 
trast with the subjective. At present ... it is only immediate object and 
nothing more, just as the Notion is not describable as subjective, previous 
to the subsequent contrast with objectivity." This only means, however, 
that when the object first appears on the scene, we, as having left the 
subject behind, regard the object in its pure abstraction from the subject. 
It is impossible, however, to remain at this attitude of abstraction, and the 
contrast with subjectivity immediately reasserts itself. The last words 
of the quotation clearly show this. If the Notion is not describable as 
subjective till it is contrasted with objectivity, neither can the object be 
described as an object till it is contrasted with the subject. See also 
footnote to § 366 below. 


which certainly, at first sight, seems very puzzling. Granted 
that in the disjunctive syllogism we have a collapse to im- 
mediacy, why, it might be asked, should this immediacy be 
regarded as the object ? In the course of the Logic we have 
had numerous examples of the merging of mediation and the 
consequent emergence of immediacy. Why should not any 
of those immediacies have been construed as the object ? 
Nothing whatever seems to be deduced here except the bare 
idea of immediacy, which has been deduced many times before. 
If immediacy was not the object then, why is it so now ? 
What is the difference between this immediacy and those ? 

The difference, we may answer, is that we have now, in 
the Notion in general, reached the sphere of thought, which 
we had not reached earlier. This immediacy, therefore, is 
the immediacy of thought. It is the immediate element in 
thought, and that is the element of objectivity. Kant, it 
will be remembered, divided experience into what is con- 
tributed by the activity of the subject, and what is given 
from the outside. Now what is given is precisely the im- 
mediate element in thought, and its source is the object. All 
else is contributed by the connecting and mediating functions 
of the subject. Hence the immediate element in thought is 
the element of objectivity, mediation being the work of the 
subject. Now the subjective Notion, in its categories of 
Notion, judgment, and syllogism, is in general the sphere of 
mediation, and hence is rightly described as the subject. And 
the transition to immediacy, because it occurs here in the 
sphere of thought or the Notion, is essentially a transition 
from the mediating moment of thought (subject) to the 
immediate moment of thought, that is, the object. 1 

1 The reference to Kant is, of course, merely illustrative. It is not to 
be taken as a justification of the Kantian dualism. The illustration is, 
however, instructive in other respects. Kant's distinction attributes the 
form of knowledge to the subject, the matter to the object. The highest 
connective unity of form is the pure ego, the subject itself, the " tran- 
scendental unity of apperception." This proceeds — though how it does so 
Kant cannot explain — to differentiate itself into the twelve forms of the 
categories, which are also the forms of the faculty of judgment. Now 
Hegel (321) identifies the Notion as Notion with Kant's pure ego. But 
Hegel, unlike Kant, does, as we have seen, explain how the Notion as 
Notion, or the ego, differentiates itself into the judgment, and, further, 


367. The object, like other categories, gives us both a 
description of the world and a definition of the Absolute. 
Firstly, everything is an object. And this involves that there 
is nothing which is not related to thought, to the subject. 
There is no unknowable entity wholly cut off from the subject, 
like the Kantian thing- in-itself. Secondly, the Absolute is 
object. God is absolute object. When this point of view is 
taken abstractly, as meaning that God is not also subject, 
it gives rise to the view of God as 44 a dark and hostile power n 
over against the subject, confronting him as something utterly 
alien to his own life and subjectivity, a mere external power 
which has nothing in common with him and which is therefore 
to be feared, but cannot be loved. This is the point of view 
taken by superstition and slavish fear. When we reach the 
higher truth that God is not only object, but also subject, 
then as subject God is no more a mere external power con- 
fronting us, but is also our own true and innermost self and 
is seen to dwell " in our hearts." This is the point of view 
of Christianity. 

368. As it first comes before us the object is abstract object, 
divested of subjectivity, the mere empty immediacy of the 
not-self. The Idea, as the synthesis of the triad, is the unity 
of subject and object. The process of the object within itself 
will therefore be a graduated return to subjectivity. In 
accordance with the universal principles of the Hegelian 
method the subject goes out of itself into its opposite, the 
object, and then returns into itself in the synthesis. This 
graduated return of the object into subjectivity exhibits three 
stages (1) mechanism, (2) chemism, (3) teleology. In the last 
we are clearly returning to the view of the object as governed 

into the syllogism. All this shows that Hegel adopted .the Kantian view 
that pure subject means the formal part of knowledge, object the material 
part. There is a passage (Macran, p. 283) where he expressly identifies 
the formal element in knowledge with subjectivity. But whereas Kant 
regarded form and matter as arising from different sources, Hegel sees 
that the matter of knowledge arises out of its form, and his exposition of 
this constitutes the transition, here expounded, from subject to object. 
These considerations should render the meaning of the transition clear. 
They should also finally dispose of Dr. McTaggart's view that subjective and 
objective only mean contingent and necessary, and do not refer to the 
inner and outer sides of knowledge. 


by thought, by purposes, by subjectivity, and this forms the 
transition to the Idea. 


369. As it first meets us the object is one, a single object, 
the single immediacy into which the moments of the Notion 
have collapsed. But this unity nevertheless has in it the 
diverse factors by the merging of which it has arisen. And 
each of these factors is not a mere factor, but is itself the 
whole. For this is the result reached in the syllogism, namely, 
that each factor of the Notion is itself the whole Notion, is 
itself the totality of all the factors. For the same reason the 
object splits up into a multiplicity of objects. Each is itself 
a totality, and an independent whole, and each therefore is 
an object. Hence what we have before us is a world of objects. 

Now the first phase of the object will be the object in 
its immediacy. And this means that each object is an in- 
dependent being totally indifferent to the others. Its being, 
therefore, is in no way affected by the being of the others. 
Consequently the only relations between them will be purely 
external relations, which do not touch in any way their inner 
natures. These relations will be no true part of the objects 
themselves but will be merely attached to them from the 
outside, or as we say, mechanically. When the universe is 
thus viewed as a mere aggregate, or heap, of indifferent objects, 
connected by no inner relationship, but merely externally 
added together, and externally connected, we have arrived 
at the category of mechanism. 1 

370. The essential point of this mechanical view of the 
universe is its externality. All mechanical theories of the 
world have this as their central idea. Thus what is called 
the mechanical theory of quality, which was first vaguely 
indicated by Empedocles and developed by Democritus, views 
quality as founded upon quantity, i.e. upon externality of 

1 See § 239 above. 


parts to parts. The Atomists, again, explained everything 
by the impact and concussion of atoms. The inner nature of 
the atom itself is in no way affected by its external relations. 
Again, our knowledge is said to be mechanical " when the 
words have no meaning for us, but continue external to sense, 
conception, thought. . . . Conduct, piety, etc., are in the same 
way mechanical, when a man's behaviour is settled for him 
by ceremonial laws, by a spiritual adviser, etc., in short, when 
his own mind and will are not in his actions, which in this 
way are extraneous to himself." 1 

371. Mechanism has, of course, its rights as a category. It 
is chiefly suitable to describe the relations of inert masses of 
matter in the inorganic world, though even here it is only the 
most abstract relations of matter which obey the laws of 
mechanics. But in the organic world, and even in the realm 
of mind, mechanism plays a part, though it becomes an in- 
creasingly trivial part as we rise in the scale of being. Purely 
mechanical operations are, as Hegel notes, important to the 
development of memory. But the category of mechanism is 
a superficial one wholly inadequate for the thorough com- 
prehension of the organic world. And many popular modes 
of thought are vitiated by the application of the category of 
mechanism where it is wholly unsuitable. Thus the statement 
that man consists of body and soul contemplates a purely 
mechanical relationship between the two. The same remark 
applies to the division of the soul into " faculties." 

Sub-Section I 


372. Formal Mechanism is simply the category of pure, 
unrelieved, bare mechanism. When the universe is regarded 
as a collection of objects external to each other, side by side, 
each of which is what it is independently of all the others, and 
which are connected by purely external relations which do 
not affect their inner natures in any way, then we have the 
category of formal mechanism. Take, for example, the remark 
quoted above, that man consists of body and soul. This 

1 WaL, Log., § 195. 


implies that the body and the soul are two independent 
objects which have, in their inner nature, no connection with 
each other, and are merely mechanically conjoined. It implies 
that this independent object, the soul, is what it is, and would 
be what it is, quite apart from the body. Thus whether it 
stands in relation to a body or not in no way affects its own 
inner and essential nature. In the one case as in the other, 
it is what it is quite on its own account. And the body too is 
regarded as likewise a quite independent object indifferent to 
its connection with a soul. 

Thus the essential ideas of pure mechanism are (1) that 
the relations between objects are purely external, (2) that 
each object has its own nature entirely in itself, which nature 
remains untouched by its relations to other objects. 

Sub-Section II 

373. Formal mechanism breaks down and refutes itself 
because it is impossible to keep up the absolute separation 
which it involves between the inner nature of the object and 
its external relations. No matter what its external relations 
the object is supposed to remain in itself unaffected, unaltered, 
immobile, inactive. It is thus the prey of external forces. 
It passively allows itself to be completely determined from 
the outside and it itself takes no part in the moulding of its 
situation. But that it remains passive and unresisting under 
the pressure of other objects, that it allows itself to be com- 
pletely determined by them, this very fact, after all, can only 
be due to its own internal nature. This, in fact, is its inner 
nature. Hence all these external objects could not thus de- 
termine it but for its own inner nature, and since to that 
extent the external determination is due to itself, such external 
determination is really self-determination. Thus the object 
forms a centre which determines itself by determining the 
other objects to determine it. Hence the object is not merely 
externally related to other objects, nor is its inner nature 
indifferent to them. It is connected with them by its inner 


nature ; it exhibits a bias towards them, an inner bond of 
unity, a sort of " affinity," or leaning towards them. Hence 
this category is called mechanism with affinity. 

Sub-Section III 


374. Absolute mechanism is simply the full development of 
the last category. Not only is the particular object, which we 
happen to be considering, a centre having a core or inner nature 
connecting it with external objects, but these external objects 
are all of them similarly such centres. Each object in the 
universe may therefore be regarded in turn as such a centre 
and all the rest as its satellites. The whole universe is a 
system of such centres. This is absolute mechanism. It is 
still mechanism, because the relations between the objects are 
still purely external, but these external relations are seen to 
be not indifferent to the inner nature of the objects. Gravita- 
tion may be regarded as an empirical example of such reciprocal 


375. Although Hegel called the last category absolute 
mechanism, it is clear that the pure and undiluted conception 
of mechanism is found rather in the category of formal mech- 
anism, and that the progress of the last section thereafter 
involves a gradual departure from the pure idea of mechanism. 
Mechanism means essentially an absolute externality of re- 
lationship between objects which are independent of, and 
totally indifferent to, each other. This independence and 
indifference undergoes a progressive breakdown in mechanism 
with affinity and absolute mechanism. There we see that the 
inner nature of objects, so far from being unaffected by their 
relations to other objects, is profoundly modified thereby. 
We have but to develop this new aspect of objects to its 
legitimate conclusion and we have the category of chemism. 


The inner nature of the object is no longer indifferent to its 
outward relations. It exhibits a leaning or affinity towards 
other objects. In pure mechanism each object is what it is 
in its own self, and quite independently of all others. But 
now we see that this inner nature of the object only is what 
it is in and through the other object. Its being is the being 
of the other object. Consequently the being of the two 
objects becomes identical. They coalesce into one object, 
which Hegel calls the neutral product. In this the separate 
inner natures, i.e. the specific characters and qualities, of the 
two objects, are merged and disappear. This conception is 

As being a unity into which its factors have disappeared 
the neutral product is undifferentiated, and "has sunk back 
to immediacy." 1 Apparently for this reason — though Hegel's 
argument here is not clear to me — the neutral product 
is capable of disintegration, and splits up again into the 
original two objects, which again coalesce, sunder, and so 
ad infinitum. 

Examples of this category are, according to Hegel, not only 
the well-known processes of chemical combination of elements 
from which it takes its name, but also the " meteorological 
process/' the sexual relation of plants and animals, the spiritual 
relations of love and friendship. It has to be confessed that 
the whole of this section on chemism is apt to appear fanciful. 


376. It was observed (368) that the evolution of objectivity 
would exhibit a return to subjectivity. The object, it must 
be remembered, is the antithesis in the triad of the Notion. 
Although therefore, it is itself the Notion, and although it 
is thought, it is yet at the same time the Notion, or thought, 
in the form of otherness, it is the other of thought, and is 

1 Wal., Log., § 202. 


therefore not the Notion, and not thought. This is expressed by 
saying that it is not subjectivity, but objectivity. Or we may 
say that the Notion, by passing into objectivity, becomes 
sunk, submerged and lost therein. And just as being dis- 
appears in nothing, so that nothing is not being, while at the 
same time it is being, so the object, as essentially the Notion, 
becomes the opposite of itself, is not the Notion, while at the 
same time it is the Notion. At the heart and core of it there 
is hidden, no doubt, the Notion. But as it immediately 
reveals itself to us the Notion is lost in it. This disappearance 
of the Notion manifested itself as the externality which is the 
essential characteristic of formal mechanism. For what the 
Notion means is internality, or to be more precise, the unity 
of opposites (310). It is that whose distinctions are at the 
same time no distinction, the distinguished factors being as 
absolutely identical as they are absolutely distinct. Now 
in formal mechanism we have the very opposite of this, viz. 
a world of objects which are absolutely distinct but have no 
identity or unity. Each object is what it is, solely in itself, 
and is completely indifferent to all others. Thus it is a crass 
plurality with no unity. This, evidently, is the very opposite 
of the Notion. Or as the Notion as it is in itself (an sick) 
is the same as subjectivity, we may also say that formal 
mechanism is marked by the complete absence of subjectivity. 

In mechanism with affinity and in absolute mechanism the 
total indifference and externality of the objects to each other 
is modified. They have become dependent upon one another. 
Here, therefore, unity begins to reappear amid difference. It 
is the first sign of returning subjectivity— for subjectivity, as 
just observed, is the same as the Notion, i.e. unity in difference. 

In chemism the different objects explicitly coalesce to unity. 
In other words we have unity in difference, i.e. the Notion, 
or subjectivity, clearly emerging from the object in which it 
has been buried. But the release of the Notion from bondage 
in the object is only completely seen in teleology. 

In chemism the different objects merge their differences, 
and lose their specific characters in the neutral product. 
Hence what we have before us is the negation of the immediacy 


and externalism of objectivity. And since this immediacy is 
the essential character of objectivity (364) we have arrived 
at the negation of objectivity itself. And that which here 
negates the object is just the Notion, which has reappeared. 
And since the Notion now negates the object, it is therefore 
independent of the object, has entered on a free existence of 
its own, like a soul which has escaped from the body in which 
it was imprisoned. 

The Notion, as thus free, stands in opposition to the object 
and the object to the Notion. The object is what is not the 
Notion, not what it ought to be. Consequently the Notion can 
only stand to the object in the relation of an ideal which it 
ought to aim at, an end. This is teleology. 

377. Hegel proceeds to distinguish between what he calls 
" external and finite design " (teleology) on the one hand and 
" inner design M on the other. By external and finite teleology 
he means the view which regards means and end as quite 
distinct objects each of which is capable of existing by itself 
apart from the other. Thus money may be used as means 
to procure bread. The bread and the money are quite distinct 
objects. Bread could exist without money, and money with- 
out bread. Similarly the moon has sometimes been regarded 
as having been created to give light to man by night. But 
man and the moon are distinct and indifferent objects which 
do not exist in and through each other. 

By " inner design," which is the true form of teleology, is 
meant, on the contrary, a relation of means and ends where 
each exists solely in and for the other, where the one could 
not exist without the other, and where, in the last analysis, 
the one is identical with the other. This is best understood 
by reference to Aristotle's conception of life, to which Hegel 
himself refers here. According to Aristotle, the life or soul 
is the 11 form M of the body. " Form " includes function, end, 
and organization. The living organism has not its end outside 
itself. It is its own end. As end it is the form, the organizing 
principle, or unity. As means it is the matter which is 
moulded into this form. Now the 11 form," which is the factor 
of unity, the universal, is precisely Hegel's Notion. For 


Aristotle the form is the end, for Hegel the Notion is the end. 
The " matter," which is the factor of plurality, is Hegel's 
object, which, as we shall see, becomes the means. 

The living organism thus provides the best example of 
inner design, or true teleology. It does not consist of two 
separate objects which stand to each other as means and end. 
The means and the end are but two aspects of one object, 
namely the organism itself. All the organs, or separate parts, 
work in subordination to the purpose of the whole. This 
purpose of the whole is simply the life of the whole itself. It 
is not anything outside the organism. The organism exists 
for itself. The parts are for the sake of the whole. The parts, 
therefore, are the means, the whole is the end. But the parts 
and the whole are one and the same thing, now viewed as a 
plurality, now as a unity. So that here the means and the 
end are the same thing. The organism, regarded as a plurality, 
is a means. Regarded as a unity it is an end. Means and end 
are not two objects, but two aspects of one object. 

The same thing may be seen in the state. The state may 
be regarded as the end of the individuals. But at the same 
time the state is the individuals. 

That this is the true view of teleology is not mere assertion 
on Hegel's part. This definition of teleology is what has been 
deduced from chemism. Chemism gave us the unity of a 
plurality of objects. The factor of unity is the end as here 
described ; the factor of plurality is the means. 

But this complete view of teleology does not emerge till we 
reach the last category of the section, viz. realized end. 

Sub-Section I 


378. Teleology will only be seen in its complete truth when, 
as stated above, the end and the means are seen to be identical. 
At first, however, they are not so. The Notion has now 
freed itself from the object, and stands in opposition to the 
object (376). The Notion is the end, the object is the means. 


Hence the means and the end confront each other in opposition. 
The object has not coalesced with the Notion, or in other 
words the end is still unrealized, unaccomplished. It stands 
before the object as a mere ideal which the object has not 
yet reached. And as the end has thus not yet objectified itself, 
but is merely an idea, is merely subjective, it is therefore only 
the subjective end. 

Sub-Section II 


379. Because the object is still distinct from the Notion, 
or end, it is therefore related to the end. The relation which 
passes from the object to the end is the purposive action by 
which the end must be realized, or in other words by which the 
separation between the object and the end must be annulled. 
This is the means. 

Sub-Section III 


380. When the separation between object and end is an- 
nulled, the end has ceased to be merely subjective, and has 
become objective, i.e. has realized and accomplished itself by 
coalescing with the object. This is the realized end. 1 

381. The process from subjective end to realized end is 
not, of course, a process in time. Hence the view of the 
universe at which we have arrived in this category does not 
mean that the end takes time to objectify itself. The view 
that it does so, the supposition that the purpose of the universe 
is not yet accomplished, is due to our using lower and inadequate 
categories. "The consummation of the infinite end," says 
Hegel, " consists merely in removing the illusion which makes 
it seem yet unaccomplished. The Good, the absolutely Good, 

1 1 am not satisfied with this exposition which, it will be seen, gives no 
real deduction at all. I am free to confess that Hegel's meaning is here 
obscure to me, but I doubt whether it was clear to himself. Nor am I 
satisfied with any other explanation, e.g. Dr. McTaggart's, that I have 


is eternally accomplishing itself in the world : and the result 
is that it needs not wait upon us, but is already by implication, 
as well as in full actuality, accomplished. This is the illusion 
under which we live. 1 ' 1 But Hegel does not mean that this 
is a mere subjective illusion. It is itself the work of the Idea, 
and is necessary for the fulfilment of the end, and is therefore 
real. For Hegel proceeds, 14 In the course of its process the 
Idea creates that illusion by setting an antithesis to confront 
it ; and its action consists in getting rid of the illusion which 
it has created. Only out of this error does the truth arise," 
(arise, that is, objectively not merely subjectively in our 
minds), ... 44 Error, or other-being, when superseded, is still a 
necessary dynamic element in the truth : for truth can only 
be where it makes itself its own result.' ' 2 

1 Wal., Log., § 212 Z. Compare with this " The Idea is not so impotent as 
merely to have a right or obligation to exist without actually existing M 
(Wal., Log., §6). There are numerous such passages in Hegel. The 
thought which they express, though possibly somewhat vague, is perhaps 
one of the most profound insights in his philosophy, involving the clue to 
the solution of the problem of evil. The existence of evil, error, imperfec- 
tion, is no mere subjective iUusion. These are real, yet they are compatible 
with the fact that the absolute Good is already, now and always, accom- 
plished, and that the universe, therefore, is perfect. See also below, § 403. 

• Ibid. 



382. The doctrine of the Notion has for its first phase 
subjectivity. The nature of reality, of the Absolute, of the 
world, is there defined as being essentially subject This is 
the thesis. The second phase of the doctrine of the Notion 
is objectivity. Reality is now defined as the opposite of 
subject, namely, object. This is the antithesis. The synthesis 
will accordingly define reality as being, not one-sided and 
abstract subject, or one-sided and abstract object, but the 
unity of subject and object. This is the Idea. The Idea 
may be defined as the unity of subjectivity and objectivity. 

383. The transition to this final phase of the Notion is 
found in the category of teleology. According to the perfected 
conception of teleology, as found in realized end, means and 
end have coalesced to unity. Now the means is the plurality 
of objects ; the end is their unity (377). For example, in the 
organism the separate organs are the means of the life of the 
whole, while the end is simply the organized unity, the whole 
itself. The means and end are thus identical, the means being 
the organism viewed as plurality, the end the same thing 
viewed as unity. Now the factor of plurality, the means, is 
the side of objectivity. The factor of unity, the end, is the 
side of subjectivity. To be a mere unorganized plurality of 
objects, without unity, such as we found in formal mechanism, 
was recognized (376) as the essential character of objectivity 
when completely divested of subjectivity. The factor of 
unity which began to reappear amid plurality in mechanism 
with affinity, absolute mechanism, and chemism, was recog- 



nized (376) as the element of subjectivity. Hence when means 
and end coalesce to unity in the category of realized end, 
what has really happened is that subject and object have 
coalesced, and have been recognized as identical. Hence we 
have arrived at the idea of the unity and identity of subject 
and object. And this is the Idea. 

384. The general point of view of the doctrine of the Notion 
is that all things are thought. But thought has the two sides, 
or terms, subject and object. At first, therefore, one term is 
abstractly emphasized, and the universe is declared to be 
subject. Next the other term is, equally one-sidedly, put 
forward, and all things are seen to be the object of thought. 
Finally, this abstraction and separation is annulled, and the 
nature of the universe is declared to be thought which is 
neither simply subject, nor simply object, but subject and 
object in one. The precise meaning of this will only be fully 
realized when we reach the final phase of the Idea, the category 
of the Absolute Idea. Meanwhile the general point of view 
of the Idea has been indicated. 

385. There is a misconception possible here which must be 
carefully avoided. The identity of subject and object, which 
we have now reached, is not an empty identity. The unity 
is not an undifferentiated unity. It is not a homogeneous 
unity in which all difference is annihilated. As always in 
Hegel, the differences are retained within the unity, which is, 
for that re^on, a concrete unity. The distinction between 
subject and object is sublated in the Idea, that is, it is super- 
seded and yet preserved. The two sides remain distinct 
within their identity. 

The identity of subject and object is not a mere neutral 
point between the two. Hegel points out that the definition 
of the Absolute which we have now reached in the Idea is 
sometimes expressed by saying that it is 41 the unity of thought 
and being, of finite and infinite, etc." 1 (Thought and being 
are here used as equivalents for subject and object respectively; 
further, the infinite is identified with the subject, the finite 
with the object.) Such an expression is correct, but may 
x Wal., Log., §215. 



become entirely incorrect, if interpreted to mean that the 
Absolute is a neutral which is neither subject nor object, 
thought nor being, infinite nor finite. In that case, " the 
infinite would thus seem to be merely neutralised by the finite, 
the subjective by the objective, thought by being. But in 
the negative unity of the Idea, the infinite overlaps and in- 
cludes the finite, thought overlaps being, subjectivity overlaps 
objectivity. The unity of the Idea is thought, infinity and 
subjectivity and is in consequence to be essentially distin- 
guished from the Idea as substance'' 1 This passage is of 
profound importance. Its meaning is sometimes also expressed 
by saying that thought overreaches the distinction between 
itself and its object. 

Hegel is, in this passage, delivering a counterblast to the 
views of Schelling, according to whom all distinctions, in- 
cluding that between subject and object, totally disappear 
in the Absolute, which is conceived as a completely un- 
differentiated homogeneous unity, a total blank, which is 
neither subject nor object, but is, as regards this and all other 
distinctions, completely neutral, empty of all differentiation 
and therefore of all character. 2 The substance of Spinoza was 
also, like Schelling's Absolute, conceived as neither thought 
nor being. And this explains the reference to substance in 
the last clause of the passage quoted. 

386. The true point of view here may be indicated by 
remembering that the object, as it came before us in the last 
chapter, is not merely the opposite of the subject. It is not 
simply not-thought. The object itself is thought (365). And 
therefore the distinction between thought and being, subject 
and object, is not an absolute one. Being is thought. Object 
is subject. The object is the subject in the form of otherness. 
Even when subject passes over into its opposite, the object, 
yet it still remains subject. Hence the subject overlaps the 
object, thought overlaps being. Or we may say that the 
Notion first posits itself as subject. The second phase is the 

1 Ibid. 

2 Cf . Hegel's famous remark that Schelling's Absolute is like " the night in 
which all cows are black." (Phen. i. 15.) 


object, which, however, has not totally broken loose from the 
subject, but still remains the product of subjectivity, so that 
in it subjectivity is still present, though veiled and hidden. 
The third phase is the return of the subject out of its otherness 
into itself. It is the return to subjectivity. The Idea, there- 
fore, is essentially subject, thought, and is no mere neutral 
emptiness. But it is not the abstract subjectivity which we 
met with in the first phase of the doctrine of the Notion, 
and which has the object over against it. It is subjectivity 
which has absorbed its opposite, the object, has taken it into 
itself and reconciled the distinction between them. It is thus 
concrete subjectivity. And it is in this sense that the saying 
of Hegel is to be understood that the Absolute is not substance, 
but subject. 1 Just as the true infinite was seen (200, 201) to 
mean, not the negative and abstract infinite which has the 
finite as something over against it, but rather the unity of the 
negative infinite and the finite, an infinite which has absorbed 
the finite into itself and so is no longer opposed by it, so here 
the subject has taken the object up into itself, and when it 
has done so, it is the Idea. 

387. At this point, too, we are in a position to understand 
the true case as regards the identity of knowing and being 
which was provisionally explained at an earlier stage (99). 
Knowing is the subject ; being is the object. It was there 
pointed out that knowing and being, that is, subject and object, 
are identical and yet distinct. The opposition and distinction 
is universally recognized and is generally assumed to be the 
whole truth. Hence we there insisted more emphatically on 
the identity. Now we see that the identity and the opposition 
are equally fundamental and important. If Hegel were asked 
for proof of his doctrine of the identity in difference of knowing 
and being, he would have pointed to the present chapter in 
the Logic. The full proof consists in the whole of the dialectic 
of the Logic from pure being to the present point. 

Unreflective common sense supposes that subject and 
object, thought and being, are entirely separate. It sees 
their distinction but has no suspicion of their identity. This 

1 Pken. i. 15. 


is because common sense is governed by the categories of the 
understanding, and never rises to a point of view more ad- 
vanced than that of essence. Science, which likewise uses as 
its instruments chiefly the categories of essence, also looks 
at the matter in the same way. So long as we view the universe 
only in the light of the categories of being and essence, the 
separation of knowing subject from known object must appear 
absolute. It is only philosophy which, by penetrating beyond 
essence to the Idea, and by viewing the universe under the 
categories of the Idea, is able to see that the object of thought 
is itself thought, is itself subject, because the whole universe 
is nothing but thought, and that thought overreaches the 
distinction between itself and its object and includes the 
latter within its own unity. Precisely how it does so has now 
been explained by the advance of the dialectic to this point. 
Nevertheless this point of view cannot be made completely 
intelligible till we reach the category of the Absolute Idea. 

388. The Idea has three stages, (1) life, (2) cognition, (3) 
the Absolute Idea. 


389. In realised end we reached the identity of means and 
end. The means appeared as plurality, the end as the unity 
which binds the plurality into one. The means or plurality 
were regarded as existing solely in and through the end or 
unity. The unity exists solely in and through the plurality. 
Neither could exist by itself. Each is wholly what it is through 
the other. Moreover they are not two beings but only two 
aspects of one and the same being. The plurality and the 
unity, the parts and the whole, are identical and yet distinct. 

This conception of a unity whose whole nature consists 
solely in its differentiation into the plurality which is sub- 
sumed under it, and a plurality whose whole nature consists 
solely in its forming that unity, constitutes the category which 


Hegel calls life. In order to think the category of life all 
we have to do is to think such a plurality in unity as is de- 
fined in the last sentence. This is not, to be sure, all, or 
anything like all, that is usually imported by the word life. 
But whatever additional meaning we ordinarily attach to that 
word must be carefully discounted as an empirical content, 
which is not deduced by Hegel, and which is not included in 
the meaning of the category. This, like force and its expres- 
sion, is one of those categories which Hegel names after an 
empirical fact, because it is most nearly and clearly exemplified 
in that fact, without, however, supposing that he has deduced 
all the empirical content of that fact as found in experience. 
And organic life is undoubtedly such a plurality in unity, or 
at least more nearly approximates to it than any other fact 
of experience. To be such a plurality in unity is, in fact, 
the essential character of living organisms. An organism is 
composed of parts, or organs, which are what they are only 
in relation to the other organs and in subservience to the life 
of the whole. The hand cut off, as Aristotle observed, ceases 
to be a hand. That is to say, the essential nature of this 
organ consists solely in its relation to the whole of which it 
is a part. Destroy its connection with that whole and you 
destroy its essential nature. The parts of the living body, 
then, are a plurality whose essential nature consists in being 
combined in the unity of the organism. Conversely the unity 
of the organism has no meaning or even existence except in 
the plurality of its organs. 

390. The living body is not, however, a perfect example 
of Hegel's category. This category imports that the plurality 
and the unity could have no existence at all apart from each 
other. This of course is not the case in the organic body. 
The hand cut off ceases to be a hand, but it does not cease 
to exist. Nevertheless we have but to carry the idea of the 
unity in multiplicity, as actually found in organic life, to its 
logical conclusion, and we have Hegel's category of life. It 
will be well to remember that empirically life does not in 
itself include or imply consciousness. Plants are living organ- 
isms but do not possess consciousness. And here too we must 



not think the idea of consciousness into Hegel's category of 
life. Cognition appears in the next section as a higher category 
than life. Hence as examples of Hegel's category of life we 
should take plants rather than animals. 

391. Hegel calls the element of plurality the body, the 
element of unity the soul. These names, like the name life 
itself, are rather to be taken metaphorically than literally. 

That life is the unity of subject and object will also be 
evident. For the living organism is both a subject and an 

The sub-divisions of life, which are confused and unsatis- 
factory, 1 are (i) the living individual, (2) the life-process, 
(3) the kind. 

Sub-Section I 


392. The first phase of life is immediate, i.e. this life, the 
single organism, the living individual. 2 

Sub-Section II 


393. The body and soul, that is, the plurality and the unity, 
are, in the living individual, in immediate unity. Nevertheless 
they are distinct. Hence the relation of the soul to the body 
is a negative self-relation. For, inasmuch as the two are 
identical it is a relation of self to self. And inasmuch as 
they are distinct it is a relation of the self to what is other, 
what stands over against it and confronts it as not-itself. 
This latter or negative element in the self-relation gives us 
the idea of a something confronting the organism which is 
not itself, not-organism, and therefore an inorganic nature. 
This inorganic nature which confronts the organism is, however, 
only the organism itself, and has proceeded from itself. The 

1 For which reason I have summarised them in the briefest manner 
possible, omitting the very doubtful reference to sensibility, irritability, 
reproduction, etc. 

2 See § 239 above. 


organism, therefore, strives to overcome the opposition and 
to reabsorb the inorganic into itself (a process which Hegel, 
surely fantastically, compares to assimilation). The struggle 
to do this, the consequent action and reaction between the 
two sides, the organic and the inorganic, is the life-process. 
It is impossible to expound these reasonings so as to show 
them in the character of a rigorous a priori deduction ; for 
they hardly possess such a character and seem to depend 
almost wholly upon elements empirically gathered. 

Sub-Section III 


394. By means of the life-process the organism reabsorbs 
the inorganic into itself. In doing so, according to Hegel, 
it ceases to be the individual, and becomes the universal, 
the genus, the Kind. "The living individual," he says, 
" which in its first process comports itself as intrinsically 
subject and Notion, through its second assimilates its external 
objectivity and thus puts the character of reality into itself. 
It is now, therefore, implicitly a Kind, with essential univer- 
sality of nature." 1 It is difficult to extract much meaning 
from this. But apparently Hegel's idea is that so long as 
the organism has the inorganic over against it, it is merely 
one of two, this as against that, and is in that way particular. 
By absorbing its other into itself it ceases to be one of two, 
ceases to be particular, and is now, therefore, universal. And 
the organism, regarded in its universality, is the Kind. It is 
difficult to take such a deduction seriously. 


395. The organism, having merged the inorganic into itself, 
is now a self-contained totality, having nothing outside it or 

1 Wal., Log., § 220. 



over against it. It is, therefore, related, not to its other, 
but only to itself, for there is nothing other than itself to 
which it could be related. Nevertheless, just because it is 
this self- relation, it therefore distinguishes itself from itself, 
(208) and puts itself forth again as an element confronting 
itself. This element, which has proceeded from itself and 
now confronts it, is the external world. Thus we have two 
results. (1) The living individual is confronted with an 
external world ; (2) the external world is, nonetheless, not only 
thus outside it, but also within it. For although the external 
world is now its other, it has proceeded from the organism. 
What is put forth by the organism is thus only the organism 
itself and remains therefore within the organism. These two 
results follow respectively from the two factors of the self- 
relation which we have seen the organism to be. These two 
factors are the factors of identity and diversity. The organism 
is related to itself. That to which it is related, as being 
identical with itself, is not outside it, but in it. But again, 
that to which it is related, as being distinguished from it, 
is other than it, and is, in that way, external to it. 

That the organism is confronted by an external world, 
which external world, however, appears within the organism 
as internal to it, — this is the definition of cognition. That I 
cognize the world means, firstly, that there is a world external 
to me, but secondly that this world also appears, in the form 
of presentation, within my consciousness, within me. 

396. That cognition rightly appears as a category of the 
Notion is evident from the fact that the general point of view 
of the Notion is that the universe is thought, and cognition 
is a form of thought. That it rightly appears as a category 
of the third phase of the Notion, namely the Idea, is evident 
from the fact that cognition implies the unity of subject and 
object. That these two sides in cognition are distinct goes 
without saying. But it is evident that they also form a 
unity, since that subject and object come together is the very 
meaning of consciousness. This is the identity in difference 
of being and knowing. 

397. In cognition, then, the external world, or object, 


becomes internal to the subject. Now this may happen in 
two ways. On the one hand the subject may be regarded as 
passive, and as receiving the external world into itself. This 
is cognition proper. It is the object which here modifies 
consciousness, not consciousness which modifies the object. 
The aim of knowledge (cognition proper) is to know the world 
as it is. It does not seek to alter the world, but passively 
accepts it. Or, on the other hand, the subject may be re- 
garded as active and as seeking to mould the world in order 
to bring it into conformity with the subject. This is volition, 
the principle of action, as distinguished from knowledge. 
Action does not, like knowledge, passively accept the world. 
It seeks to alter it to bring it into unison with its own ends 
and purposes. Cognition in general, as here defined by Hegel, 
means that the discrepancy and division between the subject 
and the world are abolished so that the two are at one. The 
discrepancy may be abolished either by the subject con- 
forming itself to the world, which is the case in knowledge, or 
by the subject conforming the world to it, which is the case 
in action by the will. 

Thus cognition has the two sub-divisions (i) cognition 
proper, (2) volition. The triad is incomplete. There is no 
third. Hegel here abandons the triadic method. Nor is any 
explanation of his having done so forthcoming. 

398. The word cognition, as ordinarily employed, does not 
include volition, to which, in fact, it is usually opposed, Hegel, 
however, uses the word to include both cognition proper, i.e. 
what is ordinarily called cognition, and will. Dr. McTaggart 
suggests that the word consciousness would have been more 
suitable than cognition. 1 

Sub-Section I 


399. Cognition proper has for its object the Idea of the 
True. It is also called the Theoretical Idea. 

Since in cognition proper the subject is regarded as passively 
1 Com. § 278. 



receiving the object into itself, the object is consequently 
regarded as not being the product of the subject, but as a 
dalum % which exists on its own account, is given from the 
outside, and is received into the forms of subjectivity. This, 
for example, is the point of view of Kant. The fact that 
Kant regarded the forms of subjectivity, i.e. the categories, 
as spontaneous activities of the subject, does not alter the 
truth of this. The point is that the external world is taken 
as already existing, as given, as presented from the outside 
to the subject which, therefore, passively receives it. 

400. This cognition is essentially finite cognition and is 
capable of apprehending only finite truth. Its finitude con- 
sists in the fact that it is not itself all reality but, on the 
contrary, has the world as a given something externally con- 
fronting and limiting it. Hence this kind of cognition sticks 
fast at the point of view of the separation and division of 
subject and object, and fails to comprehend their identity. 
It is in general the kind of cognition which emphasizes diversity 
and distinctions and ignores identity. Hence it is the cogni- 
tion of understanding. 1 If it should be asked why consciousness 
adopts this form the answer is found here. The cognition of 
understanding is here deduced. It exhibits itself, therefore, 
at this stage in the dialectic, as a necessary stage in the self- 
evolution of thought. 

401. The forms of subjectivity into which, in this finite 

cognition, the external object is received, are universals, {e.g. 

Kant's categories). They are, moreover, empty and abstract 

universals. For the concrete universal is the universal which 

produces the particular and singular out of itself, and thus 

generates its own filling. But the universal of finite cognition 

receives its filling from the outside, in the shape of an already 

existing datum, and is thus in itself empty and abstract. 

1 The beginner may possibly be puzzled by wondering why, if this cogni- 
tion is the finite cognition of the understanding, it appears here in the 
doctrine of the Notion, which is the sphere of reason and the infinite, 
instead of in essence, which is the sphere of understanding and the finite. 
The answer is that the category of cognition gives us the point of view that 
the universe is essentially cognitive thought. The point of view of essence, 
on the contrary, was that the universe consists of " things," " forces," 
" substances," etc. Because the present category regards the universe 
as thought, it necessarily belongs to the doctrine of the Notion. 


Hence the first method of thought to which this finite 
cognition gives rise is what Hegel calls the analytic method. 
Its aim is to subsume the individual object under its appro- 
priate abstract universal. It thus begins with the individual 
object and rises to the universal. This is the method of 
induction. Empiricists, like Locke, regarded all thought as 
thus analytic. 

Finite cognition may, however, reverse the process and begin 
with the universal in the form of a definition. It then descends 
through the particular, as a middle term, to the individual. 
This, which Hegel calls the synthetic method, is the method 
of geometry. Geometry begins with universals, i.e. definitions 
and axioms, and descends through demonstration to the in- 
dividual case, or to the less general truth which it desires to 
prove. Spinoza attempted to introduce the synthetic method 
into philosophy. 

Neither the analytic nor the synthetic method, however, is 
suitable to philosophy. For both are forms of finite cognition 
which presuppose the object as something given, and are thus 
devoid of necessity, since what has a presupposition lacks 
necessity. The true philosophical method is the dialectic 
method, which is also called the absolute method. This has 
no presupposition since its beginning, the category of being, 
is not a mere beginning, but is founded on its end, the final 
category, the Absolute Idea. The dialectic method is both 
analytic and synthetic in every step of its progress. It is 
itself the synthesis of both methods. Because it advances 
from the abstract universal, through further and further 
specification, to the concrete singular, it is synthetic. And 
because it begins with immediacy, and advances through 
mediation to the concrete universal, which contains the previous 
immediacy under it and within it, it is analytic. 

Sub-Section II 


402. Cognition proper thus gives rise, on the one hand, to 
demonstration by the synthetic method. Now such demon- 



stration has the character of necessity. The conclusion in a 
demonstration follows necessarily from what preceded it. In 
fact, demonstration consists in nothing else than showing the 
necessity of the conclusion. But with the emergence of the 
element of necessity we have passed beyond the sphere of 
cognition proper. The essential character of that cognition 
was that it passively accepted the world as given from the 
outside. But necessity cannot be given from the outside. 
What is simply given exists as a mere fact, as a contingency, 
for which no reason is given and in which, therefore, no 
necessity can be seen. Of what is given we say 44 it is," but 
we can never say 44 it must be." This necessity, therefore, is 
not externally presented to the subject, but is, on the contrary, 
the spontaneous activity of the subject. 1 Hence we have left 
behind the conception of the passive subject accepting the 
world, and have advanced to the conception of the active 
subject moulding the world into conformity with itself. But 
the subject, as active, as moulding and altering the world to 
suit itself — this is will, volition. We have passed from the 
Theoretical Idea to the Practical Idea. And as cognition 
proper has the true for its object, so the will aims at the Good. 

403. Volition, like cognition proper, is finite, and for the 
same reason. Although it is active and seeks to mould the 
world, it still regards the world as given from the outside, as 
an already existing material upon which it has to exercise its 
powers. The world is still an alien being which confronts it 
and limits it. It is because of this finitude of the will, because 
of the absolute separation which it still holds to exist between 
subject and object, between means and end, between what is 
and what ought to be, that it still regards the good as un- 
executed and as awaiting accomplishment in the world. What 
is, is the factor of being, the object. What ought to be, is 
the factor of the Notion, the subject (376). Finite cognition, 
including will, has not yet reached the point of view of the 
absolute identity of subject and object which is completely 

1 The line of thought here is identical with that of Kant, who argued 
that the elements of universality and necessity in consciousness cannot 
arise, as Hume showed, empirically in experience, and must, therefore, be 
due to the activity of the subject. 


attained only in the Absolute Idea. Hence what is and what 
ought to be appear as quite different things, and the action 
of the will takes the form of an infinite series of endeavours 
towards the good, which, however, is never accomplished. 
The truth, however, as will be seen in the category of the 
Absolute Idea, is that the object, or what is, and the subject, 
or what ought to be, are at once identical and distinct. In 
other words the good is just as much executed as not executed, 
and " the final purpose of the world is accomplished no less 
than ever accomplishing itself.'* 1 Unreflective consciousness 
does not penetrate beyond the rind of the world to its inner 
essence. It applies inferior categories. But the philosophic 
mind rises to the point of view of the category of the Absolute 
Idea. It then sees that all things are the Absolute Idea, that 
what the world veritably is, is nothing but the Absolute Idea. 
As such there is no distinction in the world, thus seen in its 
truth, between the means and the end, the object and the 
subject, what is and what ought to be. The world in its 
essence is nothing but the good, and therefore the good is 
already and eternally accomplished. It is only the finite 
intellect, the understanding, which puts a gulf between subject 
and object, "is 11 and " ought," and so regards the good as a 
far off and impotent ideal in the future or in some other world. 


404. The will is finite. It is still opposed by the object 
which it regards as something alien to it, something which is 
not itself, confronting it. Hence there lies in the will the 
contradiction noted above. It sets before itself a purpose 
which must be carried out. This purpose is the good. And 
will looks upon the good as, on the one hand, the sole reality 
and essence of the world ; and the object, in so far as it 
diverges from the good, is regarded as mere semblance and 
1 Wal., Log., § 234 Z. Cf. supra § 381 and footnote. 



unreality ; while on the other hand, will regards the good as 
an unreality, since it lies in the future, since it is not executed, 
since it is not yet in objective existence. This contradiction 
manifests itself in the infinite progress of the endless labours 
of the universe to reach the good, which is yet never attained. 

This contradiction is the defect in the category of volition 
which forces it onwards to the Absolute Idea. The root of 
the contradiction lies in the fact that in volition subject and 
object still confront each other as unreconciled, that the object 
is still an alien material presented to the will from the outside. 
Therefore the contradiction can only be removed by a category 
in which the object is no longer alien from the subject which 
wills but is identical with the subject itself. 

The struggle of thought to attain this reconciliation ex- 
presses itself as action. The will aims at the good. But, 
because the good is unexecuted in the external world, it is, 
therefore, not objective, but a mere subjective ideal. The will 
accordingly acts. It seeks to force objectivity to coincide 
with this its subjectivity. It strives to make subjectivity 
and objectivity identical, and thus to overcome its own fini- 
tude, and to render the object no longer alien to itself. In 
doing so will recognizes its own inadequacy. 

In this way the category of will returns to the category of 
cognition proper. It recognizes that the truth cannot be 
merely this contemplation of a good which is only subjective. 
The will itself requires that the good shall be objective, shall 
actually exist in the world. And when it so exists as an 
actual object, the attitude of the subject towards it will again 
be the attitude, not of will, but of cognition proper. For the 
subject will then no longer strive for a good which is not 
(volition), but will actually cognize a good which is, a some- 
thing which is present (cognition proper). Hence volition 
necessarily involves cognition proper, and can only overcome 
its own contradictions by combining itself with cognition 
proper. Hence the new category will be the unity of volition 
and cognition proper. 

In this new category, therefore, the good is regarded as 
eternally executed. What ought to be, also is. The two sides 


are identical. What is, however, is the side of the object. What 
ought to be, is the side of the Notion, the subject. Hence the 
subject and the object are now identical. The thought in- 
volved here is in its essence the same as the thought (377) 
that in the realized end we have the unity of means, which 
is the object, with end, which is subject. The end and the 
good are of course cognate conceptions, the category of the 
good being merely a further specification and definition of 
the end. End and good are both the side of the Notion, or 
the subject. And the objectified good, therefore, means the 
identity of the subject with the object. 

This absolute identity in difference of subject and object 
is the Absolute Idea. What it immediately means is that the 
subject, instead of having the object as something alien and 
outside it, now recognizes that the object is only itself. The 
object is the subject. The subject has for its object only 
itself. Philosophy, in attaining to this category, sees that 
the whole universe of planets, stars, men, and things, is not 
something 11 given " to mind from an external source but is 
only mind itself. Mind, or the subject, thus duplicates itself, 
puts itself forth as its own object in the form of an external 
world, and in contemplating that world contemplates itself. 
It is mind which knows itself to be all reality. It is thus the 
thought of thought, thought which thinks, not an alien object, 
but only itself. It is the vori<ris vorjarews of Aristotle. The 
same thing is sometimes expressed by saying that the Absolute 
Idea is the category of self- consciousness, or personality, that 
is, the consciousness, or thought, which has itself for its 

405. The Absolute Idea is the absolute truth. It is the 
final, complete, and adequate definition of the Absolute, or 
God, and of the universe. God is the thought of thought, 
the absolute subject-object. The world, seen in its truth, is 
nothing but the Absolute Idea. When we look upon the world 
as a system of " matter," governed by " forces,' * controlled by 
" causes," and the like, we are seeing it in its untruth, in the 
light of inadequate and onesided categories. The full truth, 
here attained is, firstly, that the world is thought (the doctrine 



of the Notion in general) and finally that it is the thought of 
thought (Absolute Idea) or personality. 

406. The Absolute Idea is the absolute infinite. For it has 
overcome all opposition. It is subjectivity which has merged 
its opposite, objectivity, into itself, and, being now confronted 
by no new rival, is coextensive with all reality. For the same 
reason, while the cognition which gave rise to the analytic 
and synthetic methods, was finite cognition, philosophical 
thought, which has penetrated to the Absolute Idea, is infinite 
cognition. Common cognition has an external object, a house, 
a tree, a star, which determines it. Philosophical cognition 
knows that its object, be it house, tree, or star, is only itself, 
and that it is therefore solely self-determined and therefore 
infinite. 1 The common saying that the mind of man is finite 
is false, for philosophical cognition is infinite thought which is 
therefore capable of apprehending the infinite. And it is 
itself the infinite which it apprehends. 

407. Hegel says also that the content of the Absolute Idea 
is simply the system of Logic which is now closing. This 
is readily intelligible. As we have so often seen, every cate- 
gory contains explicitly within itself all previous categories 
merged in its unity. The Absolute Idea as the final and 
absolute reconciliation of all differences has within it all 
previous categories, the whole Logic. The Absolute Idea, 
however, is both subject and object. As subject it is the form 
of the Logic, for the form of thought is the side of subjectivity 
(366/.). But the form of the Logic is simply the dialectic 
method. Hence the Absolute Idea, as subject, is the dialectic 
method. As object, as content, it is the categories of the 
Logic. But this form and this content, subject and object, 
are not, as in finite cognition, external to one another. 

1 Failure to remember this is responsible for Dr. McTaggart's argument 
that philosophical knowledge is not an empirical example of the Absolute 
Idea. For Knowledge/' he says (Com. § 295), " exemplifies the Idea of 
the True — the category in which the universe is determinant of the 
harmony/' This identifies knowledge with cognition proper, which, as 
determined by an alien object, cannot exemplify the Absolute Idea. But 
knowledge cannot be thus limited. Philosophical cognition is knowledge, 
and is infinite, and knows that its object is itself. Hence it truly exemplifies 
the Absolute Idea. It is an urgent necessity to cut away the roots of Dr. 
McTaggart's mystical distortion of the Hegelian Absolute as Love. 


Hence the dialectic method is not to be regarded as an alien 
form externally imposed upon an indifferent material, as the 
method of formal logic is imposed upon its objects, but as out 
and out identical with its content. 

408. With the category of the Absolute Idea the Logic 
closes. For the absolute Idea exhibits no defect which re- 
quires it to pass, within the sphere of pure thought, into a 
higher category. It is not a one-sided abstraction. It is the 
concrete whole. It is the final truth. We pass therefore from 
the sphere of the pure Idea, Logic, to the sphere of Nature. 



409. There has never been any difficulty in understanding 
what it is that Hegel is attempting to do in the Logic. The 
Logic is concerned with pure thoughts or categories, and its 
object is to deduce these pure thoughts from each other. But 
what Hegel is attempting to do in the philosophy of nature 
and in the philosophy of spirit has not always been so clearly 
understood. There is no doubt that in passing from the Logic 
to nature and spirit, we do, in some sense or other, leave 
behind the sphere of mere thoughts and come to the considera- 
tion of concrete things. The philosophy of nature considers 
no mere abstractions such as being, cause, or substance, but 
actually existent things, matter, plants, animals. The philo- 
sophy of spirit, too, is concerned with actual things which 
exist in the world, the actual minds of men, human institutions, 
the products of art, religion, and philosophy. The transition 
from Logic to nature is, therefore, a critical point in the 
system. It is the point at which the system passes from 
thoughts to things. And since this transition has all the 
appearance of a logical deduction, similar in all respects to 
the deductions within the Logic itself, it is sometimes said 
that we have here an impossible leap from thoughts to things. 
Nothing, it is urged, can be deduced from a thought except 
another thought. To suppose that one can deduce a solid 
thing, a table or a chair, from a system of abstract thoughts, 
is equivalent to supposing that by mere thought we can create 
these solid things out of nothing. It may be admitted, for 
the sake of argument, that all the deductions of category from 
category, which the Logic contains, are valid. So long as 
thought keeps within its own sphere, so long as it merely 




attempts to deduce thought from thought, its procedure may 
be legitimate. But to suppose that any process of logic can 
deduce an existent thing from a mere thought is an insane 
delusion. And it is supposed that Hegel made this attempt in 
the transition from Logic to nature. 

410. Without denying that there may be difficulties in this 
transition, it must be said that any such account of the matter 
as that just given is wholly illusory. This transition is not a 
leap from thoughts to things in the sense supposed by these 
objectors. It is, like every other deduction, a transition from 
one thought to another. The philosophies of nature and 
spirit are still concerned, not with things in their crass par- 
ticularity, but solely with thoughts. If Hegel appears to 
deduce nature from the Idea, what he actually deduces is not 
nature itself, in the absurd sense supposed, but the thought of 
nature. If, within the philosophy of nature he seems to deduce 
animals from plants, what he is really doing is to deduce the 
thought " animal n from the thought " plant.' ' If, within the 
philosophy of spirit, he seems to deduce civil society from the 
family, and the state from civil society, what he is actually 
deducing is the thoughts of these things. Everywhere, through- 
out the entire system, he is concerned solely with thoughts, 
and there is nowhere any attempt to do anything except 
deduce one thought from another. 

411. All this is perfectly clear from the explicit statements 
of Hegel himself. The thoughts which he deduces in the 
second and third parts of his system are called by him " no- 
tions." And his procedure is to deduce one notion from an- 
other, the notion of civil society from the notion of the family, 
the notion of the state from the notion of civil society, and 
so on. The dialectic method is as applicable here as elsewhere. 
To deduce civil society from the family means to show that 
the notion, thought, or idea, of the latter implicitly contains 
and involves the notion, thought, or idea of the former ; just 
as the deduction of nothing from being consisted in demon- 
strating that the thought being contains the thought nothing. 
Hegel explicitly and repeatedly tells us that the philosophies 
of nature and spirit deduce only universals ; they do not 



deduce this particular pen or that particular grain of sand. 
Now universals are concepts or thoughts. And it is surely 
obvious that to deduce " plant," 14 animal," "family," " state," 
and the like, is to deduce nothing but concepts, i.e. thoughts, 
since all these terms apply, not to one thing, but to whole 
classes of things. Here, just as in the Logic, we are con- 
cerned solely with concepts and the deduction of concepts from 
one another. There is nothing absurd or illegitimate in such 
a procedure. 

412. To this the objection may be taken that, if this is a 
true interpretation of Hegel's system, then that system, since 
it never leaves the sphere of abstractions, has, or may have, 
no application to things at all. It is a mere system of empty 
thoughts, constructed in the air. Whatever Hegel's pro- 
cedure may be, actual things, it may be said, exist ; there is 
this solid world, this table, that chair, my hat, your boots. 
And if philosophy is to explain the universe it is these actual 
things it has to explain, not mere abstractions and universals. 
And since to explain a thing means to show that it flows from 
a reason, is the logical consequent of a logical antecedent, since 
in fact explanation means deduction, philosophy must, on 
Hegel's own principle, deduce actual things, not mere thoughts. 
If it does not do so it fails to show why anything should exist 
at all. Granted that all these notions follow logically from 
one another, what reason is there why they should not remain 
mere notions, mere thoughts ? How is it that corresponding 
things actually exist ? 

413. The answer to this is simply that things are thoughts 
and nothing but thoughts (95, 100, 101), and that to deduce 
the thoughts is therefore the same as to deduce the things. 
This actual piece of paper is nothing but the universals white- 
ness, squareness, etc. There is nothing in the paper but 
universals. And to suppose that there is anything other than 
universals is to believe in the existence of an unknowable 
entity completely outside the range of thought. To deduce 
all universals would therefore be the same as deducing all 
actual things in the universe. 

414. Now I shall argue shortly that Hegel himself did not 


fully grasp this, but that, in spite of his frequent reiteration 
of the doctrine that thought is all reality, he nevertheless 
allowed himself to be seduced by a lingering trace of the idea 
which he had himself explicitly repudiated, that there is some 
mysterious entity in or behind things in addition to the 
universals which compose all we know of them. And I shall 
attempt to show that it is this inconsistency which lies at the 
root of the whole famous difficulty about the transition from 
Logic to nature, as well as of the difficulty of explaining the 
place of " contingency " in his philosophy. In the meanwhile 
it will be well to turn to certain other aspects of the same 

415. We may first clear up an apparent inconsistency in 
what has already been said. We began by observing that all 
deduction is from thoughts to thoughts, that the attempt to 
deduce actual things from thought would be illegitimate, and 
that Hegel made no such attempt. But we went on to say 
that, since things are nothing but thoughts, the deduction of 
thoughts is the same as the deduction of things, and therefore 
that Hegel does deduce, and so explain, the actual world. Do 
not these two positions contradict each other ? The answer is 
that what is illegitimate — and indeed quite absurd — is to 
suppose that our subjective deductions and thoughts can pro- 
duce actual facts. It would be ludicrous for Hegel to suppose 
that he, Hegel, could, by writing down deductions, create a 
world. In this sense he does not deduce things. But the 
Hegelian deduction is no mere subjective process. It is the 
discovery of an objective reality. And the logical transition 
from the Idea to nature means that nature exists because there 
is the Idea, because the Idea is objective and real, — not 
because Hegel happens to think the Idea. It is not Hegel 
who deduces nature from the Idea. It is the Idea itself, the 
objective Idea, not the Idea in Hegel's brain, which produces 
nature out of itself. 

416. The Logic deals with thoughts. The philosophy of 
nature, too, as we now see, deals with thoughts. But, in that 
case, it may be asked, what is the difference between the 
Logic and the philosophy of nature ? Is not the latter merely 



a continuation of the former ? The Logic ends with the 
Absolute Idea, which is said to be the highest category. But 
if our interpretation is adopted, will it not follow that the 
lowest notion with which nature begins is simply a higher 
and further category than the Absolute Idea ? And will this 
not destroy the whole fabric of the Hegelian system ? I 
answer that in one sense it is true that the philosophy of nature 
is merely a continuation of the Logic. It is certainly not cut 
off from it by any such absolute gulf as has been supposed to 
be implied in the impossible leap from thoughts to things. It 
is an integral part of the same system. But it is a new sphere 
of the system which is clearly distinguished from the sphere 
which preceded it, the Logic ; just as, within the Logic, the 
doctrine of essence is a continuation of the doctrine of being, 
but is also clearly distinguished from it. The categories of 
being are thoughts which all have this in common, that they 
are characterized by immediacy. The categories of essence 
are also thoughts. But they are a different kind of thoughts. 
For they are all characterized by the opposite of immediacy, 
namely mediation. Now the entire Logic deals with thoughts. 
And the entire philosophy of nature deals with thoughts. 
And because both deal with thoughts it is legitimate to regard 
one as a continuation of the other. But they are nevertheless 
fundamentally different and opposed. The difference consists 
in this, that the Logic deals with categories, a special kind of 
universals whose peculiarity is that they apply to everything, 
are universal in their scope. The philosophy of nature deals 
with other universals, universals which are not categories, 
universals which apply only to some things and not to all. 
Everything in the universe has being, has qualities, is a cause, 
or an effect. Being, quality, cause, effect, are therefore cate- 
gories, and fall within the sphere of Logic. But only some 
things are plants, only some are animals, only some are 
inorganic matter. " Plant," " animal," " inorganic matter," 
are therefore universals of a kind wholly different from cate- 
gories, and they therefore fall outside the sphere of the 

417. The distinction between the categories and the uni- 


versals of nature may also be expressed by saying that the 
categories are pure non-sensuous universals while the universals 
of nature are sensuous universals. The factor of sense simply 
means that what is sensuous has not merely universality but 
particularity also. It is this as opposed to that A sensuous 
universal is therefore the same as a universal which applies 
to these and not to those, to some things (moment of particu- 
larity) and not to all. We may therefore characterize the 
transition from Logic to nature in the following manner. The 
Logic gives us the first reason of the world, consisting of pure 
universals. We have now arrived at the stage at which, our 
account of the first reason of the world being complete, we 
proceed to its logical consequence, the world itself. The actual 
transition is from the general sphere of pure universals to the 
general sphere of sensuous universals. 1 

418. We have to distinguish carefully between the two 
questions, (1) whether the attempt to deduce nature from the 
Idea is legitimate, and (2) whether Hegel's attempt succeeds, 
i.e. whether the actual deduction given by him is valid. To 
the first of these questions we answer that the attempt is not 
only legitimate but absolutely necessary. It is legitimate 
because it is not, in the absurd sense usually supposed, a 
transition from thoughts to things, but only a transition from 
one kind of thought to another. And no one has ever doubted 
that it is legitimate to deduce thoughts from thoughts. The 
deduction is also necessary because it is the only possible way 
of explaining the universe. It is necessitated by the entire 
body of considerations which have been adduced in the third 
chapter of the first part of this work. What we have there 
seen is that to explain means nothing else than to deduce. All 
idealism is based upon the idea that the first principle of 
explanation of the universe is a logical principle, that it is the 
universal, and that the universal is the reason, or logical 
antecedent, of which the world is the consequent. This can 
mean nothing else than that the world is to be deduced from 
the Idea. We saw, in the first chapter of this book, that the 
relation between the Absolute and the world is a logical and 
1 On this question see also the last part of § 95. 



not a time-relation. The Greeks, especially Aristotle, saw 
this. The Aristotelian principle of form is prior to the world, 
the end is prior to the beginning, not in time, but in logic. 
What the Greeks did not yet realize was that this thought, 
when fully developed, can mean nothing except that the 
Absolute is related to the world as the premisses of a syllogism 
to its conclusion, and that therefore the world must be deduced 
from the Absolute. It was precisely the failure to realize this 
which resulted in the hopeless dualism of the systems of Plato 
and Aristotle. The very critics who now castigate Hegel for 
attempting to deduce nature from the Idea are also those who 
complain that Plato and Aristotle were guilty of an unrecon- 
ciled dualism between matter and thought. Monism means 
that there is only one absolute reality and that all else is 
produced by this reality. For Plato and Aristotle, and for 
idealists in general, the absolute reality is thought. Therefore 
they must show that matter is produced by thought. Plato 
and Aristotle did not show this. Therefore they left matter 
as an ultimate underived principle, an independent being, 
an absolute reality, alongside of thought,— dualism. For this 
they are blamed. But when Hegel attempts to reconcile this 
dualism in the only possible way, namely, by deducing matter 
from thought, he is considered to be doing something ludicrous. 
But the critics cannot have it both ways. Unless they are 
to rest in an unreconciled dualism, they must admit either 
that thought produces matter or that matter produces thought. 
In the latter case they are materialists. In the former case, 
they have admitted the position of Hegel. If we admit the 
general position of idealism, that thought is the Absolute, 
then we must show that thought produces matter. If not, 
we are landed in the dualism of Plato and Aristotle. And 
there are only two ways in which it is possible to conceive 
that thought produces matter. Either thought, the Absolute, 
is prior to matter in time, and produces it as a cause produces 
its effect ; or the Absolute is logically prior and produces 
matter as its logical consequent. The former alternative is, 
as these critics would admit, out of the question. The latter 
means that the world must be deduced from the Idea. If we 


are to adopt neither of these alternatives, if the Absolute pro- 
duces the world neither as its effect in time, nor as its con- 
clusion in logic, these critics may fairly be asked in what other 
manner they propose that we should conceive the relation of 
the Absolute to the world. 

419. Coming now to the actual transition which Hegel makes 
from the Idea to nature, we find that, in the final sections of 
the larger Logic, he says : 41 Since the Idea posits itself as 
the absolute unity of the pure Notion and its reality, and 
consequently assumes the form of immediate being, it is, as 
the totality of this form, nature.*' 1 Hegel proceeds to make 
a number of remarks upon this deduction, but this is all he 
gives us for the deduction itself. The corresponding passage 
in the Encyclopaedia tells us nothing further. This deduction 
appears to mean that since all mediation is absolutely merged 
in the Idea, the Idea is therefore an absolute immediacy. But 
what is absolutely immediate is there, is present, is simply 
given. And the character of being immediately given, pre- 
sented to us from the outside, is the essential characteristic of 
the external world, i.e. of nature. To be immediate is the 
same as to be given. For what is given is a mere fact, a fact 
which simply is so, without any reason being given for it. 
It is that which is not mediated by a reason. It is the 
immediate. Hence the Idea as immediate is something 
simply externally presented as an immediate fact. And 
this is precisely the character of the external world of 

420. This deduction is invalid, or at least insufficient. We 
have on innumerable occasions already seen mediation collapse 
to immediacy. Each or any of these immediacies might, for 
all that we can see to the contrary, have been taken as a 
transition to nature, if, as Hegel would have us believe, the 
mere fact of immediacy is sufficient to afford a transition to 
nature. All that can be said by the most hopeful Hegelian 
is that possibly Hegel's transition affords a clue to the truth 

1 The translation which I have used of this passage, and the passages 
subsequently quoted, is that given by W. T. Harris on pp. 398-9 of his 
Hegel's Logic (Chicago, 1895). 



which some subsequent thinker may follow up to find a valid 
deduction. 1 

421. But after this deduction Hegel proceeds to comment 
upon it. 44 This," he says, 44 is not a becoming or a transition 
as above, when we took the step from the totality of the 
subjective Notion to objectivity, or when we passed over from 
subjective end to life ... It (the Idea) is not subject to any 
more transitions ; its simplicity is perfectly transparent and 
has the form of the abiding Notion." But if the transition to 
nature is not a transition similar to previous logical deductions, 
what is it ? Hegel replies that it 44 means that the Idea emits 
itself with freedom in the form of nature," and he goes on to 
speak of the 11 resolve of the pure Idea to determine itself as 
external Idea," i.e. as nature. And in the Encyclopaedia he 
says : 11 Enjoying however an absolute liberty, the Idea does 
not merely pass over into life, or as finite cognition allow life 
to show in it : in its own absolute truth it resolves to let the 
moment of its particularity, or of the first characterization and 
other-being, the immediate Idea, as its reflected image, go 
forth freely as nature." 2 It is to these phrases that Schelling 
and others have objected that they are a mere tissue of meta- 
phors which cover up an absolute break in the system. The 
Idea in its absolute 44 freedom," in its 44 liberty," 44 resolves " 
(makes up its mind?) to let the moment of its particularity 
go forth freely, as its 44 reflected image," as nature. These are 
clearly poetic metaphors and no more. But the critics of 
Hegel have almost invariably failed to note the important 
fact that these poetic phrases are not part of the deduction 
itself, but only appear as a commentary upon it. The deduc- 
tion itself is contained in the single sentence quoted in §419, 
and is of purely logical character. 

422. It is clear that Hegel here asserts that the transition 
to nature is not of the same kind as the transitions within 

1 See § 239 above. No doubt the immediacy of the Absolute Idea differs 
from the immediacy of previous categories in that, according to Hegel, the 
Absolute Idea for the first time achieves absolute stability, and does not 
give rise to any contradiction which necessitates the passage to a higher 
category. But this does not seem to me to render the deduction any more 

■WaL, Log., §244. 


the Logic. It does not necessarily follow from this that he 
meant to deny that it is a logical deduction of any kind. 
Within the limits of the Logic itself Hegel distinguishes 
various kinds of logical transition. In the sphere of being, 
he says, transition consists in a passing over of one term into 
another. In the sphere of essence it is not a passing over 
but a reflection of one term on another. In the sphere of 
the Notion he says " the onward movement of the Notion is 
no longer either a transition into, or a reflection on, something 
else, but development. For in the Notion the elements dis- 
tinguished are without more ado at the same time declared to 
be identical with one another and with the whole." 1 Thus 
we see that as each of the three great divisions of the Logic 
makes its appearance, Hegel informs us that the deductions 
by which it is characterized differ in character from those in 
the preceding division. Hence the mere fact that he now tells 
us that the transition to nature is not like the transitions in 
the Logic does not of itself prove that the passage into nature 
is not a logical deduction at all. The transitions in the spheres 
of being, essence, and the Notion, are said to be different from 
each other, yet they are all logical deductions. Possibly Hegel 
means that the transition from the Idea to nature is a fourth 
kind of logical deduction. But if so, it must be added that it 
is quite impossible for us to make out what kind of logical 
deduction is meant. The language used to describe it is mere 
poetry and may not unfairly be said to mean nothing in 

423. Two things, at any rate, are certain. Firstly, whatever 
Hegel intended to do, he ought to have deduced nature from 
the Idea. Such a deduction is essential to the system, is 
essential to any explanation of the world, as has already been 
shown. Secondly, whatever Hegel may have said or meant 
in a contrary sense, the passage in which he actually makes 
the transition, is of the nature of a logical deduction. The 
actual transition is not made in the poetic passages about the 
Idea resolving in its freedom to let its moment of particularity 
go forth as nature. These passages are merely descriptions 

1 Wal., Log., § 161. 



of the transition which has already been made in the single 
sentence previously quoted, but which we will quote again : 
11 Since the Idea posits itself as the absolute unity of the pure 
Notion and its reality, and consequently assumes the form of 
immediate being, it is, as the totality of this form, nature/* 
This means that the thought of the Idea contains and involves 
the thought of immediacy ; that the thought of immediacy 
is the same as the thought of givenness, externality ; and that 
this is the thought of nature. To show that one thought 
contains and involves another thought is to deduce the second 
from the first. This is a logical deduction, whatever Hegel 
meant it to be. It is a deduction of a special type which first 
made its appearance at the category of specific quantum, 
which we there specially commented upon (239), and of which 
we have since seen numerous examples. The fact that it is an 
invalid or insufficient deduction does not, of course, affect 
the point in question. 1 

424. Possibly, as we have seen, Hegel's statement that this 
is not a transition like those in the Logic merely means that 
it is a logical deduction of a new kind. But if it be considered 
that he did really mean to deny that it is a logical deduction 
at all, then we have to conclude that Hegel was wrong, and 
in that case it only remains for us to explain the error. The 
error, if it existed at all, is, in my opinion, due to the fact 
that Hegel had never completely rid himself of the phantom 
of the thing-in-itself ; and this notwithstanding his repeated 
attacks upon the thing-in-itself. If a material object, say a 
stone, is nothing but universals, thoughts, then there is no 
reason why it should not be deduced. For to deduce thoughts 
from thoughts is admittedly legitimate. But if it contains any 
element which is not thought, then that element would be 
undeducible and unknowable. It is possible that Hegel was 
still confused by traces of this idea, believed nature to contain 
some undeducible element, and so hesitated and fumbled over 
the transition from the Logic to nature. 

425. And this would explain, too, the extraordinary position 

1 For an expression of the view that the transition from Logic to nature 
is not a deduction, see Macran, pp. 79 to 85, especially p. 84. 



he takes up on the question of the contingency of nature. It 
appears that a certain Herr Krug, supposing Hegel to be 
attempting in the philosophy of nature to deduce all actual 
existent objects from the pure Idea, enquired whether Hegel 
could deduce the pen with which he, Herr Krug, was writing. 
Hegel demolishes the unfortunate Krug in a contemptuous 
and sarcastic footnote, in which he states that philosophy has 
more important matters to concern itself with than Krug's pen. 
And the general position he takes up is that the philosophy of 
nature cannot and should not attempt to deduce particular 
facts and things, but only universals. It cannot deduce this 
plant, but only plant in general ; and so on. The details of 
nature, he says, are governed by contingency and caprice, not 
by reason. They are irrational. And the irrational is just 
what cannot be deduced. It is most improper, he tells us, to 
demand of philosophy that it should deduce this particular 
thing, this particular man, and so forth. 

426. This position will not bear examination. If there is 
in this stone, or this man, nothing but thought, nothing but 
universals, then it ought, theoretically at least, to be possible 
to deduce this stone or this man. If it is not possible, the 
impossibility can only arise because the stone contains some 
element which is not universal, and which, as absolutely 
particular, is outside the reach of thought altogether. What is 
outside the reach of thought is unknowable. It is the Kantian 
thing-in-itself. Thus Hegel's position as regards the con- 
tingency of nature lends some colour to the suggestion that 
he was still, in spite of all his assertions to the contrary, in- 
fected with the Kantian idea of the unknowable. And this 
in turn would explain his fumbling over the transition from 
Logic to nature. 

427. In my opinion Hegel was wrong, and Krug right, as 
regards the question of the pen. And Hegel's ill-tempered 
petulance is possibly the outcome of an uneasy feeling that 
Krug's attack was not without reason. If we are to have an 
idealistic monism it must explain everything from its single 
first principle, thought. And that means that it must de- 
duce everything. To leave anything outside the network of 



deduction, to declare anything utterly undeducible, is simply 
dualism. It implies that something exists which is not the 
product of thought, which is outside thought altogether, which 
is an ultimate underived absolute being. This is an outcrop 
of that same dualism which was so plain in the systems of 
Plato and Aristotle. No doubt it is true that, in Hegel's 
system, nature must be regarded as, in some sense, mindless 
and irrational. The Idea is reason. Nature is the opposite 
of the Idea. Nature, therefore, is irrational. And since 
rationality is the same as necessity, nature must be governed 
by the opposite of necessity, viz. contingency. There is no 
necessary logical reason why anything in nature should be 
as it is ; it simply is so. But it is likewise an essential feature 
of the Hegelian system that any two terms which are opposites 
are also identical. There cannot be an absolute separation 
between the rational and the irrational. The irrational must 
be also, at the same time, rational. It must be shown that it 
is rational that the irrational should exist. Now if Hegel had 
asserted that any particular object, say this stone, is, on the 
face of it, something irrational ; but had further gone on to 
show that this very irrationality was a product of reason, 
that, when the true essence of the stone is revealed it is found 
that its centre and core is thought, reason, — this would have 
been in consonance with the essentials of his sytem. This 
would, moreover, have been to deduce the stone. But to say 
that the stone is something so utterly irrational that it lies 
wholly outside the Notion, that it cannot be deduced, this is 
to admit an absolute separation and opposition between the 
rational and the irrational, an opposition within which there is 
no identity, an opposition so complete that it introduces a 
fatal dualism into the system. For it means that there is in 
the universe a division which cannot be healed, an absolute 
cleavage into two incommensurable halves, each of which is 
an absolute and independent being. There are, on this view, 
two kinds of reality. It is useless for Hegel to assert, as he 
does, that what is not rational is not real. This leads to a 
contradiction which we also find in Plato. The Platonic 
11 matter " is declared by Plato to be absolute not-being. But 



the truth is that this " matter," since it is an entity which 
Plato does not derive from the Ideas, is really an absolute 
being. It is the same with Hegel's contingent and irrational. 
He declares it to be an absolute unreality. But since it exists, 
and since it is not deduced, not derived from thought, it has 
therefore an independent being of its own. It is an absolute 

428. An idealistic philosophy, to be complete, must accord- 
ingly deduce every detail in the universe. This means, of 
course, that it never can be complete. Infinite knowledge, 
omniscience, would be required to complete it. And the 
position which Hegel ought to have taken up, and which any 
reasonable Hegelian now must take up, is to admit that the 
system is not and cannot be complete. This, however, is 
what Hegel would not do. There was undoubtedly a kind of 
arrogance about him which prevented it. He wears always 
an air of omniscience. The system is to be complete, absolute, 
final. It is to solve all problems. To take up the position 
that a complete philosophy must deduce everything, and to 
admit in consequence that his own system, however great — 
and it is great and magnificent, the greatest system that any 
human brain has produced — was after all but a candlelight in 
the immense darkness of the universe, — this humility did not 
suit Hegel's mood. For the rest, it is important for us to 
bear in mind, as we proceed with the details of the rest of 
the system, that Hegel did, rightly or wrongly, adopt the view 
that particular things cannot be deduced ; that nature is 
governed by caprice and contingency ; and that he is to deduce 
only the universal genera of nature and spirit. We cannot 
even expect, he thinks, to deduce all natural species. For 
nature runs riot here too and blindly multiplies species without 
reason. In the infinite welter of forms which nature produces 
reason is completely lost. This endless extravagance of natural 
production is, according to Hegel, a sort of madness, the 
absolute unreason of nature. And he observes that this 
so-called 11 wealth M of nature, her infinite variety, which is so 
much admired, is in truth far from admirable. It is the 
4 impotence of nature," her powerlessness to keep within the 



bounds of reason. This mad productivity on the part of 
nature is a sort of running amok, a Bacchantic dance in which 
nature revels uncontrolled by reason. 

429. The questions so far discussed in the present chapter 
are controversial in the sense that various critics take various 
views both as to what Hegel meant and as to the legitimacy 
of his proceedings. On these questions I have now expressed 
my opinions. The rest of this chapter will be concerned with 
the exposition of the actual contents of Hegel's philosophy 
of nature, regarding which there are no differences of opinion. 

430. Nature is the antithesis of the triad which is con- 
stituted by the Logical Idea, nature, and spirit It is, there- 
fore, the opposite of the Idea. It is the Idea gone out of 
itself into otherness, into self-estrangement. It is for this 
reason that, as the opposite of the Idea, which is reason, 
nature is irrational. Nature too is the moment of particularity 
which the Idea allows to escape from itself. In accordance 
with the general principles of the dialectic method, the Idea 
is the universal (for the Logic deals only with pure abstract 
universal thoughts) ; nature is the particular ; spirit is the 
singular, concrete individuality. 

431. Just as the Idea is a sphere of many thoughts, so 
nature is a sphere of many things. And just as Logic begins 
with the emptiest and most abstract thoughts, and therefrom 
deduces a series of more and more concrete categories, so the 
philosophy of nature will begin at the bottom with the emptiest 
and most abstract things and will present us with a logical 
triadic evolution of more and more concrete forms. It begins 
with empty space. Space is utterly empty and abstract. It 
has within itself no character, no features, no determinations 
of any kind. It is the formless. It is an absolutely homo- 
geneous continuous emptiness in which there is no differentia- 
tion. It corresponds to the category of being which is likewise 
a homogeneous emptiness destitute of all determination and 

432. Thus the lowest term of nature is space. At its other 
end, at its highest term, it passes over into spirit. Spirit is 
reason. It is the Idea returned into itself. But the ascending 



stages of nature constitute the gradual return of the Idea into 
itself, and the completion of this process is spirit. When, in 
the Logic, the subjective Notion passed over into the object, 
this new sphere began with that which was most destitute of 
subjectivity, namely, mechanism. The successive categories 
of this new sphere constituted the gradual return and emer- 
gence of subjectivity. Subjectivity, which was lost and buried 
in mechanism, made its definite reappearance in teleology, and 
with that the object passed over into the Idea. The progress 
of the ascending stages in nature is in all respects comparable 
to this. Nature begins with that which is most mindless, most 
irrational, space. The Idea, reason, is here almost wholly lost 
and buried. In the succeeding stages of nature, reason gradu- 
ally reawakens. And with the final stage, the animal organism, 
nature attains consciousness, and is ready to pass over into 
spirit, the rational spirit of man. 

433. Space is thus that which is most empty of mind, of 
thought, of reason. Nature is, in space, in its most extreme 
opposition to the Idea. Space is, in general, the extreme 
opposite of thought. For thought is absolute internality, 
space absolute externality. The parts of thought do not lie 
outside each other as the parts of space do. In fact it is only 
by a metaphor that we can speak of the " parts M of thought. 
Things in space, and space itself, have parts ; which means 
precisely this, that externality is the character of space. The 
parts of space are only parts because they are external to, 
and lie outside of, each other. This externality is the essential 
of space. Space in fact is externality. 

The very essence of thought, on the other hand, is internality. 
We may say, if we choose, that the Idea is composed of parts, 
namely, the various categories of the Logic. But to describe 
the categories as parts of the Idea is only a metaphor. They 
are not really parts because they essentially do not lie outside 
each other. On the contrary, they are inside each other, and 
to prove this is the very purpose of the deduction. Nothing 
is within being. And it is only because being has nothing in 
it that deduction can produce nothing out of it. All the 
succeeding categories are implicity within being. All the pre- 



ceding categories are explicitly within the Absolute Idea. An 
intermediate category, such as substance, explicitly contains 
all the categories which precede it, and implicitly contains all 
those that follow. Thus every category contains every other 
category within it. This is the absolute internality of thought, 
which is the extreme opposite of the externality of space. 

434. The philosophy of nature presents us with a doctrine 
of evolution, a progress from lower to higher forms. But it 
should be carefully noted that no time element is involved 
here. One phase succeeds another, not in order of time, but 
only in logical order. Hegel lived in pre-Darwinian days, and 
he was not aware that evolution is a fact in time as well as a 
process of logical thought. In fact he expressly denied the 
theory of an historical evolution. " Nature,' ' he says, " is to 
be regarded as a system of grades, of which the one necessarily 
arises out of the other, and is the proximate truth of the one 
from which it results, — but not so that the one were naturally 
generated out of the other ... It has been an inept conception 
of earlier and later ' Naturphilosophie ' to regard the pro- 
gression and transition of one natural form and sphere into 
a higher as an outwardly actual production . . . Thinking 
consideration must deny itself such nebulous, at bottom 
sensuous, conceptions, as is in especial the so-called origin, for 
example, of plants and animals from water, and then the 
origin of the more highly developed animal organizations from 
the lower.' 1 1 

We may no doubt smile at Hegel's description of the most 
fruitful of subsequent scientific discoveries as an " inept con- 
ception." But it should be carefully noted that his mistake 
in no way affects the value of his philosophy of evolution as 
such. In the first place, Hegel's actual aim is to explain the 
phenomena of nature by deducing them in logical order. And 
it is quite irrelevant to his purpose whether events in time 
happen to correspond with that order or not. The explana- 
tion, i.e. deduction, of the forms of nature will be the same 
in either case. But apart from this, the great value of the 

1 Encyclopaedia, § 249. The translation is that given by Stirling in the 
Secret of Hegel. 


Hegelian conception is that it gives the clue to a rational 
justification for the belief that some forms of nature are higher 
than others. We believe that a horse is a higher being than 
a worm, and that a man is higher than a horse. But the mere 
scientific theories of Darwin and Spencer afford no justification 
for this. They do not give us a rational scale of values. The 
development from some ape-like being to man is not, for 
anything that biology can show, a change from lower to 
higher, but only a change from one indifferent thing to 
another. It might just as well have been a change from 
man to ape. 

Change can only become development in the true sense by 
being viewed teleologically in relation to an end. Unless 
nature is moving towards an end there can be no advance, 
and therefore no higher or lower. To say that anything is 
higher can have no meaning unless it refers to some standard 
of perfection, some perfect end, towards which the world- 
process is moving. Now modern science does not supply the 
conception of such an end. But to Hegel the end is the 
actualization of reason, the Idea, in the world, and this end 
is, at least proximately, reached in man, for man is a rational 
being. That form is higher in nature which more nearly 
approaches this end. It is a further development of reason 
than the lower form. And the mere order of deduction in 
the philosophy of nature proves that the later grades are 
higher than the earlier grades. For the process here is the 
same as in the Logic. The latter stage is explicitly what the 
earlier is only implicitly. The earlier is the mere potentiality 
of what the later is in actuality. The later therefore contains 
and is all that the earlier contains and is, and more also. It 
is a fuller, completer, more adequate version of the earlier. 
It is what the earlier was only trying to be. The Logic gave 
us a series of categories of increasing value. And the philo- 
sophy of nature gives us a series of natural forms of increasing 
value. And just as in the Logic the later categories take up 
the earlier into themselves, so that nothing is lost, but with 
each triad something new is added ; so it is in the philosophy 
of nature. So that Hegel's system gives us a genuine basis 



for a philosophy of evolution. And all this is quite unaffected 
by the blunder which he happened to make on the question 
of the evolution of species in time. 

435. It is not necessary for the student to enter elaborately 
into the detailed deductions of the philosophy of nature. It 
is almost universally admitted, even by the most ardent 
Hegelians, that this branch of the system, depending as it 
does upon physical science for its data, is now out of date 
owing to the strides which physical science has made since 
Hegel's day. Nor will anyone now dispute that, even in his 
own time, this philosophy of nature was, as regards the details 
of its deductions, mostly a failure. To deduce the forms of 
reason, which is the work of the Logic, was a not impossible 
task. But to deduce the forms of nature, infinitely manifold, 
tangled, and confused, this was a task at which even the genius 
of Hegel broke down. His deductions in this sphere depend 
mostly upon far-fetched and fanciful analogies, and sometimes 
upon erroneous scientific information. 1 It would be useless 
to reproduce them here. Nor do I pretend to be competent 
to expound them. They cannot be regarded as a living 
part of philosophy. They are of no more than historical 

It is, however, profoundly important that the general idea 
of the philosophy of nature should be understood, for it is 
an organic part of the Hegelian system. Unless we understand 
what function it performs, what position it occupies in the 
system, the Logic and the philosophy of spirit are left hanging 
in the air. Its general function and position in the system 
have now been explained, and it only remains to give the 
briefest possible outline of its actual contents. 

436. Nature exhibits a triad of three stages, which are 
treated of respectively in (1) mechanics, (2) physics, (3) 

(1) Mechanics. This is the first phase of nature, the thesis. 
The Logical Idea, the realm of thought, was internal to itself. 
This internality passes into its opposite, the absolute extern- 
ality which is the system of space, time, and matter. This 
1 See Croce, pp. 185 to 191. 


appears at first sight as an absolute outside-itself-ness, a 
complete indifference of part to part, a blind and endless 
multiplicity lacking in any principle of unity. Nature here is 
governed by sheer mechanism which, as we have seen, is the 
absence of unity, of subjectivity, of the Notion, of reason. 
Nevertheless it is not wholly so. The striving after unity, 
which is the principle of reason, of subjectivity, appears in 
the form of gravitation. Gravitation, because it seeks to draw 
this blind multiplicity into a system and a unity, exhibits 
even here the governance of thought, the principle of 

(2) Physics. In mechanics, however, matter is regarded 
abstractly. It has not yet become this or that individual 
thing, having qualities and a character of its own. Thus, in 
astronomy, it is not this particular planet, the earth, which 
is considered. Any physical body could be substituted. It 
is not the earth, the sun, the moon, that are dealt with, but 
only the abstract geometrical and mechanical relations of those 
bodies. In physics the philosophy of nature rises from this 
abstract view to the consideration of material objects as 
individual entities, as possessing qualities and character. 
This gives rise to the study of the forms and species of 
inorganic nature. 

(3) Organics. Here we pass from inorganic to organic 
nature. The transition is effected through the chemical 
process. Organic matter passes through three stages. 

(a) The geological organism, comprising the mineral kingdom. 
The geological earth is to be regarded, not indeed as a living 
being, but as a sort of huge corpse. 

(b) The vegetable organism. The plant is a living organism 
and exhibits the partial reduction of the multiplicity of nature 
to a systematic unity. Nevertheless the parts are not held 
firm within this unity. They are largely indifferent to one 
another. One part of the plant may perform the functions 
of another part. There is not that systematic differentiation 
and integration which is found only at last in 

{c) The animal organism. In animals the return of sub- 
jectivity makes itself definite in the form of consciousness. 


And in man this subjectivity becomes free ego. Hence the 
animal organism is the final form of nature, and constitutes 
the transition to spirit. 1 

1 Some further sub-divisions of the philosophy of nature will be found in 
the diagram at the end of the book. 



437. The German word for spirit here is Geist. Some 
English writers translate it spirit, others mind. We shall, as 
a rule, use the former rendering ; but it will occasionally be 
useful to use the latter. And in any case the two translations 
of the word should be remembered. We have seen that the 
Absolute Idea is the category of spirit. But it may also be 
called the category of mind, or thought. The Logic is a 
description of the absolute mind, the primal intelligence which 
was before the world, God as He is in Himself before His 
manifestation. But this mind, which the Logic describes, is 
an entirely abstract mind. It does not exist. It has not 
manifested itself. In nature this abstract mind has gone over 
into its opposite, the mindless, the irrational, the crass ex- 
ternality of nature. Now, in the philosophy of spirit, we see 
its return into itself. What we have before us is no longer 
mindless. It is once more definitely mind, spirit. But it is 
no longer abstract. It is the living concrete spirit of man. 
It is mind or reason in manifestation, mind which has now 
come to exist in the world. 

438. Spirit, as the synthesis of the triad, is the unity of 
the Idea and nature. Man is, on the one hand, an integral 
part of nature. He is an animal. He is an external material 
existence subject to the dominion of natural laws. He is, on 
the other hand, a spiritual being, a living embodiment of reason 
and of the eternal mind. The Idea is the abstract genus. 
Nature is the differentia. Reason, now determined by the 
differentia, the Idea flecked with nature, this is the species, 
the spirit of man. The pure Idea had in nature gone over 
into its opposite, become estranged from itself, become the 



mindless, the idealess. In spirit it returns into itself en- 
riched from its own opposition. The Idea was, in nature, 
imprisoned in the mindless. In spirit it frees itself from this 
bondage, comes to exist as free spirit. The philosophy of 
nature exhibited the gradual steps of the evolutionary process 
by which the Idea disengages itself from absolute mindlessness. 
This evolution from inorganic matter to animal organism is 
the gradual return of the Idea, from its absolute self-contradic- 
tion in crass matter, to itself, to rationality. Spirit is the 
completion of this process. 

439. Nevertheless, just as there are grades in the realm of 
nature, so there are grades in the realm of spirit. The Absolute 
comes to itself in man, but only by means of a long and arduous 
dialectical development. Spirit does not posit itself forthwith 
as absolute spirit. It begins with a low stage of itself, and 
only gradually attains its complete self-fulfilment. To trace 
out this gradual evolution, stage by stage, is the task of the 
philosophy of spirit, and the dialectic method is the instrument 
which Hegel uses here as elsewhere. 

440. The philosophy of spirit falls, accordingly, into three 
main spheres which constitute a triad. The first phase in 
its self -evolution is entitled subjective spirit. Its content is 
the human mind viewed subjectively as the mind of the 
individual subject. Its sub- divisions are therefore the succes- 
sive stadia of individual consciousness, such as sense-percep- 
tion, appetite, intellect, reason, imagination, memory, and 
the like. Spirit thus considered is spirit in itself, implicit. 
Spirit proceeds out of itself into otherness in the second main 
division of the philosophy of spirit, i.e. objective spirit. The 
essential inwardness of spirit as subjective here passes over 
into its opposite, into external objectivity. Just as the Idea 
in general passed into externality and so created an objective 
external world, nature ; so now the subjcctiveness of spirit 
creates an objective world external to itself. But this is no 
mere world of crass matter. It is a spiritual world. It is 
the world of spiritual institutions. These are the institutions 
of law, morality, and the state. These are objective ; they 
are just as much outward objects as a stone or a star. But 



they are also identical with the I to which they are thus 
external. They are nothing but the objectification of myself. 
They are not indeed the objectification of my single self, of 
me as a peculiar individual with my personal eccentricities 
and caprices. But they are the objectification of my universal 
self, my reason, of what I have in common with all humanity, 
of the universal spirit of man. For example, the laws of the 
state are not, or ought not to be, merely the embodiment of 
the whims, the prejudices, or the interests, of any individual or 
class. They embody the rational and universal life of the 
community. These institutions are thus, on the one hand, 
objective and outward. And, on the other hand, they are 
clearly spiritual ; for they are the manifestation of mind, 
intelligence, purpose. And for this reason they fall here under 
the head of the philosophy of spirit. This part of Hegel's 
system gives us his ethics and political philosophy. 

441. The third main division of the philosophy of spirit is 
called absolute spirit. This is the human spirit in its mani- 
festations in art, religion and philosophy. And this division 
of Hegel's work comprises, therefore, his aesthetics, his philo- 
sophy of religion, and finally, to use a phrase which Hegel 
himself does not use, his philosophy of philosophy. Absolute 
spirit is the unity of the subjective and the objective spirit. 
And it is only here that spirit becomes at last absolutely free, 
infinite, and fully concrete. In its final phase, philosophy, 
spirit knows that it is itself all reality. For the philosophic 
spirit sees the world as merely a manifestation of thought, that 
is, of itself. The world is only itself. Its object, i.e. the world, 
is identical with itself, with the subject. Subject and object are, 
therefore, in philosophy, identical. Or in other words, philo- 
sophy is the final unity of subjectivity and objectivity. It is 
for this reason that absolute spirit is the synthesis of subjective 
spirit and objective spirit. And in philosophy the return of 
the Idea into itself is complete. For philosophic man is the 
supreme manifestation of reason, i.e. of the Idea, in the world. 
The more exact meaning of these teachings must be left till 
we come to deal with absolute spirit in detail. 

442. That the Idea should return into itself, — this is the 


end, the purpose, of the world-process. We saw that a philo- 
sophy of evolution must justify the values of higher and 
lower, and that it can do so only in relation to an end, only 
if the world is regarded teleologically (434). The whole pro- 
gress of the evolution which is begun in the philosophy of 
nature and completed in the philosophy of spirit is determined 
by this end. The Absolute is the logical Idea, reason as it is 
in itself. But the logical Idea is merely abstract reason ; it 
is reason which does not exist, has not manifested itself. The 
purpose of the world is the self-manifestation of reason ; 
reason must come to exist as a concrete being in the world. 
The Absolute must manifest itself. This end is attained in 
man, for man is a reasoning being. And philosophic man is, 
in theory at least, the completely rational being, the complete 
manifestation of the Absolute. Higher and lower in the scale 
of evolution mean respectively nearer to and further from the 
attainment of this end. 

443. As in the Logic and the philosophy of nature, it must 
of course be understood that the successive phases of the 
evolution of spirit do not constitute a time-series. The pro- 
cess is a purely logical process. And the transition from one 
phase to the next is a logical deduction. Just as the category 
nothing is deduced from the category being, so here objective 
spirit is deduced from subjective spirit, religion from art, 
philosophy from religion. Or at least, this is what Hegel aims 
at. Whether the deductions are in fact valid and successful 
is of course another question. But because we have here, in 
theory at least, a chain of deductive reasoning stretching 
without a break from the first page of the Logic to the last 
page of the philosophy of spirit, and because this systematic 
development comprises everything in the universe, material 
or spiritual, therefore, in this way, the entire universe is 
explained, i.e. shown to be the necessary logical consequence of 
its first reason, which first reason is the consequence of itself 



444. The sphere of subjective spirit is the sphere which is 
generally understood to be dealt with by the modern science 
of psychology. Its subject matter comprises all the grades, 
functions, and " faculties, 1 ' of the individual mind of man, 
from the lowest forms of instinct, feeling, and sensation, to 
the highest forms of reason, intellect, and practical activity. 
Its subject is thus the whole range of mind or spirit, regarded 
as inward, i.e. as not yet having put itself forth in an outward 
and external form in the shape of institutions. The institu- 
tions of law, custom, morality, political organization, and the 
like, constitute an external world which is not, like nature, 
merely mindless, but is, on the contrary, the very substance 
of mind become outward, the objective realization of reason 
and spirit. These institutions, therefore, constitute objective 
spirit. But what we now have to deal with is subjective 
spirit, the mind of the individual as individual, my mind, 
your mind, etc. 

445. But we must be careful to avoid the mistake of sup- 
posing that by individuality, in this connection, is meant 
merely personal peculiarities or oddities that attach to one 
individual mind and not to another. It is certainly the 
structure of your mind and my mind which Hegel is here 
seeking to deduce, but only in so far as our minds are universal 
in their character. It is only what is essential to mind, not 
what is accidental and contingent, that is to be deduced. 



Thus memory, reason, self-consciousness, desire, are universal 
characters of mind. But the fact that I dislike the colour 
yellow, or that you exhibit a passionate love of horses, the 
facts that one man prefers beef to mutton and another mutton 
to beef — these are no universal characters of mind as mind, 
but are merely the accidental, meaningless, and contingent 
eccentricities or foibles of the single self. These have no 
place in the philosophy of spirit. And these remarks apply, 
of course, not merely to the sphere of subjective spirit, but 
to the philosophy of spirit as a whole. It is only mind as 
mind, spirit as spirit, the universal and essential in the spirit 
of man, that we anywhere consider. 1 

446. The subject matter of the division which deals with 
the subjective spirit is thus the same as the subject matter of 
psychology, namely, mind regarded as inward. This does not 
mean, however, that we are about to enter upon a discussion 
of psychology in its ordinary sense. Psychology is an em- 
pirical science. But what we have here is philosophy. The 
subject matter of philosophy in general is the same as the 
subject matter of the empirical sciences, namely, the universe 
in which we live. But philosophy is nevertheless distinct 
from geology, botany, chemistry, physics, etc. And so here, 
too, it is not the empirical science of mind that is to occupy 
us, but the philosophy of mind. Empirical psychology simply 
picks up its facts as it finds them, takes them for granted, 
and asks no questions. Philosophy has to deduce its facts. 
Psychology will be content to say that the mind, as a matter 
of fact, has memory, reason, desires, etc. Philosophy seeks to 
show that the mind must have these phases by deducing one 
from the other. 

447. The word psychology is nowadays used, and has been 
used by us in the last three paragraphs, to mean the empirical 
scienceof thewholeof subjective mind. Hegel himself , however, 
uses the term in a much narrower sense, for he has applied it 
only to the last of the three divisions of subjective spirit. 
When it is thus narrowed down it has for him a specialized 
meaning which we shall come to understand in the appropriate 

1 On this subject see §§ 425 to 428 above. 



place. But it may be useful to remark that Hegers termin- 
ology, here and everywhere, is largely arbitrary. In the 
Logic he discovered so many categories that the naming of 
them became a matter of great difficulty. There were not 
enough terms to go round. Sometimes he invented new terms, 
sometimes he was forced arbitrarily to assign special meanings 
to familiar words. It is just the same in the philosophy of 
spirit. It is, as a rule, of little use to puzzle ourselves as to 
why Hegel used such and such a term for such and such a 
meaning. We have to recognize that his language is largely 
arbitrary, and simply to learn his meanings for words. And 
from a philosophical point of view (whatever the literary 
artist may think), there is no objection to this, provided we 
find that Hegel consistently uses his terms with the same 
meanings. In the main he does so. 

448. Subjective spirit exhibits the three stadia (i) anthro- 
pology — the soul, (2) phenomenology — consciousness, (3) psy- 
chology — mind. Every one of these terms is used in an 
arbitrary way which differs from the common use of the words. 
Their precise meanings can only be explained in the course of 
the dialectic. But by way of anticipation it may be said in 
general that by soul Hegel means the lowest conceivable phase 
of mind ; a stage so rudimentary that it has not yet even 
reached sense-perception, but is still a vague dim semi- 
consciousness, which realizes nothing, which is still in bondage 
to nature and to the body, which is scarcely yet recognizably 
human, and is barely above the level of animality. The term 
anthropology means the study of the soul in this sense. 

When we thus speak of the various stages which spirit 
passes through, as soul, consciousness, understanding, desire, 
reason, etc., it must not of course be supposed that we are 
dealing with so many separate " things," or even " faculties." 
The soul is not something different from the mind, nor is 
reason anything different from understanding. Nor has the 
spirit a number of different 44 faculties " in the way that the 
body has two legs or two eyes. Spirit is an ideal unity, and 
soul, consciousness, mind, etc., are but different stages or 
aspects of the one life that pulses undivided through them all. 



449. The soul, which is the subject of anthropology, passes 
through three phases, (1) the natural soul, (2) the feeling soul, 
(3) the actual soul. 



450. Spirit posits itself first as the natural soul. Its char- 
acteristics are deducible from the fact that it is the absolute 
beginning of spirit. It is therefore immediate, and because it 
is immediate, it has for its sole characteristic mere being. 1 
Nothing can be said of it except that it is. For the absence 
of all mediation in it means (1) that it is not mediated by 
itself, i.e. that it has no distinctions within itself, but is com- 
pletely undetermined, empty, homogeneous, and (2) that it is 
not mediated by anything outside it, such as an objective 
world over against it, and therefore that it is not characterized 
by any relation to anything ; and hence the categories of 
essence, which is the sphere of relation, do not apply to it, 
but only the category of being. Just as the first category of 
Logic was being, a homogeneous emptiness of thought, and 
the first phase of nature was space, an external emptiness, 
so now the first phase of spirit is, so to speak, a mere homo- 
geneous blank in the sphere of spirit. 

Here at the beginning of spirit we stand on the topmost 

rung of the ladder of nature. And we may ask ourselves how 

1 See § 239 above. 


far above nature the natural soul rises. The answer to this 
question is given in what has just been said. Because the 
natural soul is this mere blank of spiritual being, completely 
lacking in any definite spiritual determinations, the measure 
of its advance upon nature may be said to be so far nil. It is 
still almost completely entangled in nature, and in bondage to 
it It is for this reason that it is called the natural soul. 

Sub-Section I 


451. The life of the soul is thus, at this stage, still one with 
the life of nature. It is completely determined by its en- 
vironment. This environment is, as we know, the surrounding 
world of natural objects. But though we know this, the 
rudimentary soul which we are studying does not know it. 
These natural objects exist for us } but not for it. It is still 
a long way off from the stage of being conscious of external 
objects. And since there is for it nothing external to itself, 
it is for itself therefore the totality of all existence. Whatever 
is, therefore, must be in it. Hence the various modes in 
which it is affected by its environment are not, for it, affections 
by external objects, but appear within it as modes of its own 
being, that is, as qualities which it has. And since its whole 
life is still a mere partaking in the common life of nature, 
these qualities will be natural or physical qualities — qualities 
which are just as much part of its animal body as of its soul. 
Here we are again speaking in terms intelligible to us, but 
which have no meaning for it, since as yet the distinction 
between body and soul is foreign to it. 

452. These physical qualities are tabulated by Hegel as 
follows. The soul (1) " takes part in the general planetary 
and feels the difference of climates, the changes of the seasons 
life, the periods of the day, etc. This life of nature for the 
main shows itself n — i.e. in us, in fully developed man — " only 
in occasional strain or disturbance of mental tone. In recent 
times a good deal has been said of the cosmical, sidereal, and 
telluric life of man. In such a sympathy with nature the 



animals essentially live." 1 In the case of civilized man, Hegel 
goes on to say, these points of sympathy with nature are 
almost completely overwhelmed and submerged under the 
superstructure of thought, reason, and mind, which the higher 
faculties have developed. 11 The response to the seasons and 
hours of the day is found only in faint changes of mood, which 
comes expressly to the fore only in morbid states.* 1 2 But 
among savages this kind of sympathy with the life of nature 
is sometimes exhibited in an almost uncanny way. 

(2) Differentiation of the geographical spheres of the terres- 
trial globe give rise to differences of race and of the various 
racial or national minds. 

(3) The differentiation of man into different types of racial 
mind proceeds further to the differentiation of individual 
minds, distinguished by their special temperaments, characters, 
talents, etc. 

453. Whether or not Hegel's reasoning is to be regarded as 
a rigorously valid deduction, one can at any rate trace the 
thread of logical thought running from the idea of the im- 
mediacy of the natural soul, through the affections of it by 
its environment regarded as in it, to the general conception of 
these as physical qualities which it has. But the rest of the 
detail tabulated by Hegel, and the examples given, seem to 
be entirely undeduced, arbitrarily and empirically picked up 
and foisted in here. The amount of empirical material which 
Hegel surreptitiously introduces into the philosophy of spirit 
is far greater than in the Logic. 

454. It is of vital importance to remember that we are 
here, and for some time to come, dealing with confessedly 
abstract states of mind. They are abstractions just as what 
has been called " bare sensation " is an abstraction. Sensa- 
tion as a mere receptivity, completely divorced from all in- 
tellective activities, does not exist. Even in the lowest kind 
of perceptual knowledge, categories, such as those of resem- 
blance and difference, are present. The natural soul is an 
even thinner abstraction than bare sensation. It does not 
exist, at any rate in man. It might perhaps be said to exist 

1 Phil, of Mind, § 392. 2 Ibid. 


in an amoeba, though even in the consciousness (if we could 
use such a term) of the amoeba the categories must be implicit. 
But this is not of course to be made a ground for criticism 
of Hegel. He perfectly realizes it. He does not for a moment 
suppose that these rudimentary forms of mind exist separately 
on their own account. But just as geometry rightly considers 
shapes in abstraction from things, and psychology rightly 
considers sensation in abstraction from intellect, so philosophy 
here exercises the same right. But whereas everyone recog- 
nizes the element of sensation in himself, most of the phases 
of mind dealt with in Hegel's anthropology are so abstract 
and so rudimentary, that we have some difficulty in recognizing 
them in ourselves at all. They have long since become sub- 
merged in sub-consciousness. Nevertheless they do make 
their appearance " in faint changes of mood " and " in morbid 
states " as Hegel himself points out. 

455- It is of course essential to Hegel's position, and in 
accordance with the fundamental assumptions of the dialectic 
method, that all the later stages of spirit, even the highest, 
are implicit here in its lowest forms. If this were not so, it 
would be impossible to deduce the higher from the lower, 
since such deduction simply means showing that the higher 
are in the lower (122, 153). This principle is, in fact, the same 
as that which is asserted by psychologists and others when 
they point out that " bare sensation " is an abstraction. What 
they mean is that even in the crudest possible sensation higher 
forms of mind, categories, reason, conceptual thought, are 

Sub-Section II 

456. The physical qualities of the soul now become physical 
alterations such as the changes involved in the passage through 
childhood, youth, manhood, etc. So far as I can see no 
genuine deduction is attempted here. The transition in Hegel 
occupies only one sentence : " Taking the soul as an individual, 


we find its diversities n — i.e. its physical qualities — 11 as altera- 
tions in it, the one permanent subject, and as stages in its 
development." 1 The very use of the words " we find " 
implies that the alterations are not deduced, but are empiri- 
cally found existing. No doubt the idea is that the differentia- 
tion at which we have now arrived, in the shape of various 
physical qualities, involves diversity and alteration from one 
to another. But although change certainly implies diversity, 
diversity does not necessarily imply change, — which would be 
necessary to Hegel's deduction. 

457. The details of these physical alterations also appear 
to be, except in one case, undeduced. Hegel gives them as 
(1) childhood, youth, manhood, and old age, the essential char- 
acters of which he describes, (2) the sexual relation, the alteration 
involved in the individual seeking and finding itself in another, 
and (3) the changes of sleeping and waking. Of the essential 
features of this last Hegel gives a deduction. Whereas on its 
first appearance the natural soul was entirely empty and 
homogeneous and so without internal distinctions, there is 
now within it the implicit distinction between itself, i.e. the 
homogeneous blank with which we began, on the one hand, 
and the affections of its environment which appear in it as 
physical qualities and alterations on the other. The former 
Hegel calls its 41 immediate being," the latter we may call — 
though the term is not used by Hegel — its content. When the 
individuality now distinguishes within itself its content from 
its mere immediate being we have the state of waking. Sleep, 
on the other hand, is its relapse into the state of its immediate 
being. This immediate being is an u undifferentiated uni- 
versality," which when it becomes specialized and differentiates 
itself gives rise to its content, its physical qualities and altera- 
tions. Sleep is, so to speak, the loss of this content, the return 
to homogeneous universality. In it the soul has returned to 
its first phase, mere being. It may be regarded as conscious- 
ness robbed of all content, i.e. consciousness of nothing, 

1 Phil, of Mind, § 396. 


Sub-Section III 


458. The implicit internal distinction between the immediate 
being of the soul and its content also gives rise to sensation 
or sensibility. For the soul now distinguishes its content, its 
affections, from itself. Hence instead of being its qualities 
they are now its sensations. For because they are something 
distinct from itself, they are therefore something found i some- 
thing which seems to have a subsistence apart from the soul 
itself. They are therefore not part of it, as its qualities are, 
but are affections which exist in it as something other than 
itself, i.e. sensations. The possession of such sensations is 

But it must be carefully noted that although the sensations 
have thus a kind of semi-independence, they are still within 
the soul itself The soul is still for itself the totality of all 
existence, outside which there is nothing. There is as yet 
no external object over against the subject. This sensation 
is not something other than the soul itself ; it is only an 
aspect of itself which, as such, it distinguishes from itself. 
The distinction is still one which the soul makes within itself } 
not a distinction which it makes between itself and something 
else. Sensations which we do not attribute to any external 
source, but have within ourselves, such as hunger, fatigue, 
internal pain, perhaps constitute examples of what Hegel 
means. Such sensations are distinguished by me from myself. 
" I " am not my hunger. Nevertheless they are within me. 
It is not objective sensations, such as those of seeing a tree 
or a house, that are here in view, but purely subjective sensa- 
tions. There is as yet for the soul no such thing as an external 

It is precisely this which makes the distinction between 
the sensibility deduced here and the sensuous consciousness, 
or sense-perception, which will be deduced in the next chapter 
under the head of phenomenology. Sensuous consciousness 
means for Hegel the consciousness which the senses give us of 
external objects. And this does not exist as yet. 



459. We have arrived at the existence of sensations in the 
soul. These may be regarded from two points of view which 
have already been indicated. On the one hand, they are 
distinguished from the soul itself, and on the other hand they 
are within it and are therefore parts of itself. As distinguished 
from the soul, they are found existing by it, and from that 
point of view it is they which affect the soul, i.e. they are 
active while the soul is passive. But since, on the other hand, 
these sensations are within the soul, are part of itself, it follows 
that what is thus active in affecting the soul is only the soul 
itself. The soul is therefore active. Its sensations are its own 
act. It is the soul which feels, and the soul so viewed is the 
feeling soul. 

Hence the distinction between sensation, which was the 
subject of the last sub-section, and feeling, which is the subject 
of the present section, is simply that sensation emphasizes the 
passivity of the soul in its affections, whereas feeling emphasizes 
its activity. The soul itself now feels, or is sentient. 

Sub-Section I 


460. Although the feeling soul is, as such, active, yet in 
the first phase of its immediacy, its activity is not realized 
as such, but appears, on the contrary, as passivity. For the 
fully developed idea of the activity of the soul involves its 
realization of itself as a self. It involves the sense of self, 
the distinct feeling that it is 11 1 " who act. This again 
involves the distinction between the lt I " who act and the 
somewhat upon which I act. Now this distinction is already 
implicitly made inasmuch as the soul distinguishes its im- 
mediate being from its sensations. But Hegel apparently 
thinks that, because the first phase of the feeling soul must 
necessarily be the phase of immediacy, the mediation which is 


involved in this distinction between the self and its sensations 
must be regarded as not operative. Hence it is not yet the 
" I " which feels, but the soul rather has its " I " outside 
itself in another soul, which feels for it, and whose feelings it 
receives in passive sympathy as from an outside source. It is 
then the feeling soul in its immediacy. 1 The most important 
examples which Hegel gives of this state are the conditions of 
the soul in the child still in its mothers womb, and the con- 
dition of the soul in the state of hypnosis. The feelings of 
the child in the womb are indeed not its own feelings but its 
mother's. It is her self which governs and controls the soul 
of the foetus, so that in truth the latter is a mere passive 
recipient of the states of her soul. The child has not a soul 
of its own. Its soul is her soul. In hypnosis the soul of the 
patient is similarly merged in and determined by the soul of 
the operator and is a merely passive recipient of the latter's 
states of mind. It is not the soul of the patient which itself, 
of its own activity, feels. It is the soul of the operator which, 
so to speak, feels in the soul of the patient. 2 

Sub-Section II 


461. Self -feeling, or the sense of self, is implicit in the 
preceding states. The soul now explicitly distinguishes its 
sensations and feelings from itself. They are therefore 
recognized as merely particular aspects of itself. They are 
therefore its own sensations and feelings. And with the con- 
sciousness that these feelings are mine I am ipso facto aware 
of myself. This is the sense of self, or self -feeling. 

462. Hegel further remarks that the failure to keep the 
particular aspects of self in proper subordination, and the 
tendency to let one particular aspect subordinate all others to 

1 See § 239 above. 

2 Cf . Addington Bruce, The Riddle of Personality, 2nd edition, p. 21. 
" Dr. Esdaile . . . demonstrated the possibility of community of sensa- 
tion ' between the operator and his subject. This he did through a young 
Hindu . . . while in the hypnotic trance. In turn Dr. Esdaile took in his 
mouth salt, a slice of lime, a piece of gentian, and some brandy, and the 
Hindu ... in every case identified the taste." 


it, and so govern the whole life, is insanity. These remarks, 
however, appear to be parenthetical, and to have no connection 
with the course of the dialectic. 

Sub-Section III 


463. The soul is now distinguished into " itself," its im- 
mediate being, which is undifferentiated homogeneous uni- 
versality, on the one side, and its content, consisting of 
sensations and feelings, which is a multiplicity of diversified 
particulars, on the other. These are, so to speak, two halves 
of the soul. But the former is, by itself, a completely empty 
form of universality. The latter is by itself a blind medley. 
Hence the one is just as essential as the other, and the two 
cannot exist apart. Thus the empty universality must, in 
order to exist, embody itself in the particulars, and exist in 
and through them. In doing so it stamps its own universality 
upon these particular sensations, impressions, etc. This uni- 
versality, which now appears in the particulars, is, according 
to Hegel, only a " reflexive universality, " i.e. a mere numerical 
universality which consists in the same thing getting itself 
repeated time after time in a series. When the particular 
sensations, activities, feelings, etc., thus repeat themselves, 
they constitute habit* Habit is thus the form of universality, 
which is one half of the soul, realizing itself in the particulars, 
which are the other half. 

464. The deduction here is somewhat subtle. We may be 
inclined to object that it is performed by using the word 
universality in two senses, first as the universality of class, 
the universal which is the same as a concept or an abstraction, 
and secondly as meaning simply totality, the sum of a series 
of similar things, heaped together, and called " all." The 
universality with which we begin is the universality of form, 
of the 11 immediate being " of the soul, which is a class- 
universality reached by abstracting from the particular con- 
tents of the soul. From this we pass to the mere numerical 
universality which, in habit, appears as the continual repetition 



of the same unit. These, it may be said, are quite different 
ideas, and we have no right to pass from one to the other as 
if they were the same. 

But it may be answered that class universality is simply 
an abstract idea, and the only way in which such an idea can 
manifest itself in the real world is through the numerical 
universality involved in a repetition of units. For example, 
" man " is an abstract idea, a class universal. This can only 
manifest itself in the real world in a multiplicity of units 
which repeat themselves in a series which runs, this man, 
this man, this man . . . etc. That is to say, class-universality 
is ideal. Its realization in the world is numerical or " reflexive" 
universality. We have, therefore, not two different kinds of 
universality, but one universality, now ideal, and now real, 
i.e. in manifestation. 

Now the essential point of the Hegelian deduction here is 
that the formal universality of the ego has to manifest itself 
in the particulars. It can only become manifest as a numerical 
universality, i.e. as a repetition of units of sensation, feeling, 
activity, etc. This is habit. 



465. In the last sub-section we have seen the two halves 
of the soul coalesce to unity. The universality appears in the 
particulars and exists only in them. The particulars again 
have no meaning except in the unity. The result of this 
coalescence is the single self or subject, which Hegel calls the 
actual soul. 

Formerly the soul distinguished itself from its content. 
Now it is seen that without its content it is nothing, a mere 
blank, so that its content is also itself, is just as essential to 
it as its universality. This single whole of universality and 
content, moulded into each other, each as essential as the 
other, is the actual soul. Or, to put it in another way, the 


state of mind which is called the actual soul is the realization 
by the soul that its content is not something alien to it, and 
that it itself is not merely one half, but is both halves. 

466. Why is this called the actual soul ? This is in accor- 
dance with Hegel's invariable use of the word " actuality/' 
Actuality, as defined in the Logic (291) meant the unity of 
inner and outer, of essence and manifestation. The one half 
of the soul, its universality, is here regarded as the inner. 
The other half, the particular content, is regarded as the 
outer. The point of view which we have reached is that the 
real soul is neither the inner by itself, nor the outer by itself, 
but is the unity of inner and outer. The inner side is not 
hidden or veiled behind the outer ; on the contrary it appears 
in it, is revealed in it. The particular content of the soul is 
the very stuff of its universality. The two are one. This is 
therefore the " actuality " of the soul. 

467. This is the final phase of the " soul " as that term is 
used by Hegel. We now leave " soul " behind, and pass to 
the more developed form of spirit which Hegel designates by 
the word " consciousness. 1 * We pass from anthropology to 



468. In the stage of " soul," the mind was still a monadic 
individual, which contained within itself its entire universe, 
all its sensations, impressions, and feelings, being purely 
subjective. No world of objects, no external universe, existed 
for the soul. The next stage at which mind arrives has for 
its general character the fact that it has now become aware 
of an object external to it, of which it is conscious. The pure 
subjectivity of soul now undergoes diremption into the two 
sides of subject and object. This phase of mind is called by 
Hegel consciousness, and the study of it phenomenology. 

469. The deduction of consciousness consists merely in mak- 
ing explicit the distinction between the soul and its content 
which was implicit in the previous chapter. The soul there 
distinguished its content, consisting of its sensations, feelings, 
and impressions, from itself. But at the same time this 
relation of otherness was also a self-relation. Its content was 
identical with itself. Now, however, the factor of distinction 
is alone explicitly emphasized. The soul closes with itself, 
and leaves the sum total of its sensations, feelings and impres- 
sions, standing outside it as an external object. These sensa- 
tions and feelings, although a mode of its own life, were after 
all something which it distinguished from itself , something other 
to it, which confronted and opposed it. It only requires that 
mind should explicitly realize this externality of its content, 

1 This term is used in a much narrower sense here, i.e. in the Encyclo- 
paedia, than in the Phenomenology of Mind. The following account is, as 
usual, based on the Encyclopaedia, but I have supplemented it from the 
fuller explanations given in the Phenomenology of Mind. 




for its content to become a definitely external world of objects. 
When this has occurred we pass to the phase of consciousness. 

470. A further result follows from these considerations. 
Up to the present the ascending grades of the soul have 
appeared as what they are, viz. changes or developments in 
the soul. Since, in the sphere of anthropology, the soul com- 
prised within itself all existence, therefore any changes that 
occurred fell necessarily within the soul, for there was nothing 
outside the soul to which these changes could be attributed. 
Thus in the passage from sensibility to feeling, or from self- 
feeling to habit, it was the soul itself which underwent develop- 
ment, for there was nothing outside the soul to develop. Now, 
however, something other than the subject, namely, the object, 
has come upon the scene. And the successive steps which 
consciousness now makes seem to it to be changes, not in 
itself, but in its object. This must be so. For the whole 
wealth and variety of content which was formerly inside the 
soul has now been, so to speak, turned out of doors, thrust 
out of it to take up an independent existence of its own in 
an external world. This wealth and variety of content being 
gone, the subject is left contentless, a mere formal universality 
and abstract self-identity, which has within itself no inner 
distinctions. All distinctions, and therefore all changes — 
since changes involve distinction — now fall, not within the 
subject, but within the object. Hence in the ascending phases 
of consciousness, the thinking subject itself seems to remain 
always unchanged as the same abstract universality. The 
object seems to change. The phases seem to consist merely 
in the fact that the thinking subject becomes successively 
aware of various objects, or of various phases of the object. 
This, in general, is the point of view of ordinary unreflective 
common sense. At one moment, it seems, I am aware of a 
house, at the next of myself as an ego, at the next of some 
other person as an ego, and so on. It is not I, so it seems to 
common sense, who change. Only my objects change. 

The philosophic mind may know that what thus seems a 
change in the object is in reality a change in the subject. For 
the philosophic mind knows that the external world is not 


really an independent reality, but is only the product and 
projection of mind itself, and that whatever happens is but 
the result of its own spontaneous activity. But this is not 
the point of view of the stage of consciousness at which we 
have arrived. For consciousness, it seems to be the object 
which undergoes change. 



471. The object has now emerged from the recesses of the 
subject and taken up an independent position confronting it. 
It is this independence of the object which first gets recognition. 
The object is not-me, is something alien, in which I have no 
part. It is not yet realized that the object is, in its truth, 
only a projection of myself. It is at first seen as completely 
external, independent, and alien from the subject, an absolute 
other over against it. This is the position of consciousness 
proper. It exhibits three stages, (1) sensuous consciousness, 
(2) sense-perception, (3) intellect. 

Sub-Section I 


472. The first phase of consciousness is, of course, immediate. 
This means (1) that the object is itself an immediacy, and (2) 
that the relation of subject to object is an immediate relation. 
The immediacy of the object constitutes it a singular, an 
individual object, a " this " or 11 that." The immediacy of 
the relation of subject to object involves that the object is 
directly presented to consciousness, i.e. immediately appre- 
hended as there. There is no mediating or intervening link 
between the thinker and his object as happens when the ex- 
istence of the object is inferred. Its existence is not now 
an inference for consciousness but a presence. Such immediate 
apprehension of an individual object is sensuous consciousness. 1 

1 See § 239 above. 


473. All that sensuous consciousness knows about its object 
is that the object is. It attributes being to the object and 
nothing more. For if it had any further knowledge of the 
object this would involve mediation, of which there is as yet 
no trace, and which would contradict the immediacy of this 
kind of apprehension. It knows nothing of any distinctions 
within the object, nor of any relations between objects. For 
all such distinctions and relations involve mediation. Thus 
the object stands for it in absolute isolation, unrelated to 
anything. This type of consciousness is, therefore, simply the 
abstraction of " bare " sensation, sensation as distinguished 
from sense-perception. The latter involves the apprehension 
of relations and universals. I " perceive " this chair. But I 
perceive it as a chair, i.e. as a member of the class of things 
designated chairs. Such perceptual knowledge involves com- 
parison, the application of concepts, the relationships of 
similarity and difference which the chair bears to other objects. 
In the bare sensation which is now before us there is no such 
advanced content. The object is not linked up to other 
objects by a network of relationships. It stands in sheer 
isolation as an absolute immediacy, an absolute atomic unit 
of sensation. It is a mere tkereness. Consciousness knows 
that it is, and knows no more about it. It is thus the crude 
sensation, the raw material of knowledge, which has as yet 
no shape and no form. Such a state of mind does not exist 
in man as a separate state. It is a mere abstraction. Any 
state of mind experienced by us is higher than this, and yet 
every state of mind has this as its foundation. That con- 
sciousness should begin with such a mere abstraction is, of 
course, inevitable for Hegel. Concrete states of mind emerge 
only later. 

Sub-Section II 


474. The transition from sensuous consciousness to sense- 
perception is accomplished by means of the abstract character 
of the former which has just been noticed. Because it is 
abstract it is inadequate and untrue, and this constitutes the 


dialectic by which it rises to perception. For sensuous con- 
sciousness exhibits this inner contradiction with itself, that 
whereas it purports to seize and be aware of the 11 this" this 
latter which it purports to know turns out to be meaningless, 
unknowable, and non-existent. It purports to be " this" — 
an absolutely unrelated, unmediated, isolated sense-unit. But 
what is 11 this n ? Whatever we say in answer to this question 
invests the 11 this " with a universal character, the very 
opposite of what it is supposed to have. To say that it is 
44 here " or 44 now " is at once to apply concepts, or universals, 
to it ; for 44 here " and 44 now " are both universals. Even to 
say it is "this" leads to the same result; for "this" is likewise 
a universal. Everything is a 44 this," so that the term 44 this " 
is a general term which applies to everything. Everything 
belongs to the class of objects which are called 44 this." Hence 
44 this " is a class-name and imports a universal. There is no 
such thing as the absolutely isolated particular which sensuous 
consciousness purports to apprehend. If there were it could 
not even be a 44 this," since to call it 44 this " is to class it 
with all other objects which are 44 thises," i.e. to know it as 
a universal. Thus the completely isolated unmediated 44 this " 
does not exist and has no meaning. 1 

Thus sensuous consciousness refutes itself and breaks down. 
It is now seen that what alone the senses can apprehend is 
the object leavened with universality. It apprehends 44 this " 
as what it is, i.e. as a member of the class of 44 thises." It 
apprehends the chair, the table, the man, the star, as what 
they are, members of the various classes of objects to which 
they belong. That is to say it apprehends them in their class 
nature, their universal nature, as mediated and related to 
other objects. This sensuous apprehension leavened with 
universality — a universality which, no doubt, is introduced by 
the spontaneous activity of the mind — is sense-perception. 

475. The above is the argument as given inthe Phenomenology 
of Mind. 2 The deduction which Hegel gives in the Encyclo- 

1 The line of thought here is the same as that already fully developed at 
§ 6 above. It is also identical with Aristotle's assertion that formless 
matter is not-being. 

2 Phev. vol. i. chap. i. 


paedia seems to be somewhat different. There he says " The 
sensible as somewhat becomes an other : the reflection in itself 
of this somewhat, the thing, has many properties . . . The 
muchness of the sense-singular thus becomes a breadth, — a 
variety of relations, reflectional attributes, and universalities." 1 
This means that whereas sensuous consciousness seeks to 
apprehend the object as a simple undifferentiated " one," such 
a point of view turns out to be impossible, for the " one n 
develops internal distinctions and inner variety in the form of 
its many properties. Such inner distinction and manifoldness 
of course involve mediation, whereas sensuous consciousness 
purports to apprehend the object as absolutely immediate. 
Instead of immediacy we have now mediation, instead of un- 
relatedness we have internal relations, and therefore we have 
universality. And such universality being introduced into 
sensation, we get perception. The argument, at bottom, 
however, is the same as that of the Phenomenology. It rests, 
as did the latter argument, on the principle that the completely 
unmediated, unrelated, undifferentiated, is unthinkable, and 
that we must, in order to mean anything, have mediation and 
therefore universality. But the first argument emphasizes 
chiefly the external relations of the object, i.e. its relations 
with other objects of its own or different classes, while the 
second argument emphasizes chiefly the internal relations 
involved in the inner distinction of the object into a manifold 
of properties. 

The matter may be put in a nutshell by saying that the 
search for immediacy is futile, and that however low we descend 
in the scale of consciousness we never find bare sensation, pure 
immediacy, but always mediation is at work. This fact, as 
well as the distinction between sensuous consciousness and 
perception, are very well illustrated by Mill's assertion that 
when a man says 11 I saw my brother" the statement is 
incorrect. All he really sees is 11 a certain coloured surface, 1 ' 
and the consciousness that this is his brother is not a direct 
observation (immediacy) but is an inference (mediation). 2 
But if we suppose that by descending to " a certain coloured 
1 Phil, of Mind, § 419. 2 Mill, Logic, Bk. iv. ch. i. § 2. 


surface " we have reached immediacy we are much mistaken. 
44 Coloured " and 44 surface " are both universals. Nor does 
it help us to talk of " visual sensations." 44 Sensation " is a 
universal. Pure immediacy is absolutely unreachable. Even 
the lowest sensation involves mediation and universality. 
And when we have realized this we have grasped the Hegelian 
deduction. The lowest conceivable sensuous consciousness 
has in it mediation, and therefore perception. The deduction 
consists in just this — that the consequent (perception) is 
implicit in the antecedent (sensuous consciousness). This is 
the logical character of all deduction. 

Sub-Section III 


476. Sense-perception in its turn exhibits itself as self- 
contradictory and is accordingly superseded. The contra- 
diction which it develops is that between the individual and 
the universal. What is perceived is, or purports to be, an 
individual, a 44 this." But at the same time its only truth 
and meaning have already been shown to consist in the fact 
that it is not an individual but a universal, or if we prefer it, 
a congeries of universals. What is perceived is at once an 
individual and not an individual. The result is that the object 
of perception turns out to be 44 a tissue of contradictions." 

This contradictory character of the object of perception 
develops itself more particularly in the following manner. 
The object is no longer a single sensation or impression, but 
is now, for perception, a 44 thing." Owing to the mediation 
and differentiation which have now been introduced, the 
44 thing " has 44 properties." If we consider the 44 thing " and 
its 44 properties " in abstraction from one another, we may say 
that the 44 thing " is the factor of isolatedness, unrelatedness, 
and immediacy, whereas the 44 properties " are the universals 
with which, at this stage, the individual is now leavened. For 
the properties are precisely what we classify the thing by. It 
is a chair, for example, because it has qualities in common 
with other objects which are also called chairs, and because 


it has not the qualities or properties of a house or a table. 
" Being used to sit on," " having four legs/' etc., are the 
universals by means of which we apprehend the object as a 
chair. That it has these universals, or properties, and not 
such universals as " being alive," " conscious," etc., is what 
makes it a chair and not, say, an animal. The side of 
universality, mediation, relatedness, then, lies in the " pro- 
perties." The side of isolated particularity lies in the u thing," 
for the " thing " without its properties is precisely that un- 
reachable immediacy of which we can say nothing, since even 
to say that it is " this " would imply that it has the universal, 
or property, of "thisness." 

Now the object as a " thing " is a " one." As having 
" properties " it is a " many." But to be both one and many 
is self-contradictory. It is a futile expedient to say that 
there is no contradiction because 11 from one point of view " 
the thing is one, while u from another point of view " it is 
many. This implies that the object is not really in itself many 
or one but that its manifoldness or unity are merely our sub- 
jective way of looking at it, and lie, not in the thing itself, 
but in us. We first attribute the unity to the thing itself, 
and believe that the thing itself is " one," and that its mani- 
foldness is not in it, but is a mere appearance which is due to 
our point of view. We then reverse the process and say that 
the thing itself is many and that its unity is merely our way of 
looking at it and lies in us. Any such procedure is futile, and 
we have to realize that the thing itself is both many and one. 

For, in fact, its unity involves its multiplicity, and vice 
versa. Thus suppose we begin by saying that the thing is 
" one" and disregard the manifoldness of its properties, we 
shall soon see that we cannot thus leave out its manifoldness 
which is implied in the very fact of its being 11 one." For it 
is only " one " by virtue of excluding others from itself. But 
it only excludes others by means of its properties. Thus the 
chair only excludes the table, i.e. is different from it, by reason 
of its possessing the properties of a chair and not those of a 
table. Thus it is only enabled to be a " one " by having 
properties, that is, by being a " many." It is impossible to 


avoid the immanent contradiction which the object has in 
itself by any subterfuges about the point of view from which 
it is regarded. The contradiction does not arise from the 
point of view of consciousness, but exists in the object itself. 

It is only another form of the same contradiction when we 
say that the object has, on the one hand, an essential nature 
which constitutes what it is in itself, while, on the other hand, 
its relations to other things are an external and unessential 
character which is no part of its true internal being. Apart 
from all other things, we say, it is what it is in its own self, 
and thus its essential character is unaffected by its external 
relations to other things. But a moment's thought will show 
that it only distinguishes itself from, and relates itself to, 
other things, by means of its inner nature. And conversely 
it is only what it is in its inner nature by virtue of its dis- 
tinctions from other things. Its being-for-self and its being- 
for-other are identical. Its external nature is part of its 
internal nature, its unessential being is just as essential as its 
essential being. This is, at root, the same contradiction as 
that between the " many " and the " one." For its internal 
nature is just the side of its 11 oneness," the side of the " thing/' 
its external nature is constituted by its " properties/' which 
are its relations to other things* 

Thus the object of perception is, apart from all questions 
of " point of view " or our way of looking at it, " a tissue of 
contradictions." All these contradictions are, however, at 
bottom, merely deductions from and developments of the one 
fundamental contradiction which exists between the object as 
universal and the object as a single individual. As universal 
it has " properties," is in relationship to other things, has 
being-for-other. As a single individual it is the " thing," the 
" this," cut off from other things, shut up within its own 
being-for-self. All sense-perception involves this absolute 
contradiction between a universality and a singularity which 
subsist in the same object and are yet absolutely incompatible. 
I see this chair. On the one hand, it is simply and solely this 
single individual chair. But on the other hand, it is a uni- 
versal, a " chair," and if it be regarded simply and solely as 



an individual, as non-universal, then it ceases to have any 
meaning or even existence. 

Sense-perception cannot avoid this contradiction, quibble 
as it may about points of view. Therefore consciousness must 
rise above sense-perception to a new attitude of mind. This 
it does in the following manner. Sensuous consciousness had 
for its object the bare unmediated singular. This becoming 
impossible, it rose to sense-perception, and took for its object, 
no longer the bare singular, but a compound of singleness and 
universality. The truth, it sees, is not singleness but uni- 
versality, which alone gives meaning to the single 44 this." 
But its object, as perception, is not pure universality, but 
universality mixed with singleness. Now it finds, however, 
that this is an incompatible combination and gives a con- 
tradictory object. The truth is neither bare singleness (sen- 
suous consciousness) nor a mixture of singleness and univer- 
sality (perception). The truth, therefore, can only be pure 
universality with the element of singleness dropped out alto- 
gether. Hence consciousness now takes pure universality for 
its object, or, to put it otherwise, the object itself changes, 
ceases to be an individual thing, and becomes a pure universal. 

This involves a change in the kind of universality in view. 
For perception, universality means only sensuous universals, 
such as 41 chair," 44 house," 44 river," "star," 44 tree," i.e. uni- 
versals which are concepts of sense-objects or of qualities 
sensuously perceived. Were it otherwise, we should not, of 
course, be dealing with sense-perception. But in rising beyond 
perception, the mind necessarily passes to those universals 
which are not perceived, i.e. to non-sensuous universals. 
These, as we shall see, are such universals as 44 force," "gravita- 
tion," 41 one," 44 many," 44 law," etc. These belong to a class 
of universals distinct from those with which perception is 
concerned. For we can see a 44 chair " with our eyes, we can 
touch a 44 tree " with our fingers. But we cannot see, touch, 
or otherwise sensuously preceive 44 law," or 44 gravitation," 
or 44 unity," or 44 multiplicity." These are pure universals. 
When the mind takes for its object such pure universals it has 
become intellect. 


477. We can now indicate the general attitude to the object 
which intellect takes up. Its point of view is that the true 
object, or the object when it is really understood in its truth, 
is the pure universal. That is to say, it regards the universal 
as the reality. But it does not thereby cease to be aware of 
the single individuals of sense. It regards them, however, as 
not being the true object. In other words, it regards them as 
appearance. The multiplicity of the sense-world is thus con- 
ceived as a veil, behind which is the true world, which is a 
super-sensuous world of universals. 

Now the universal stands to the individual sense-objects as 
unity to multiplicity. Even with sensuous universals this is 
so. There is but one concept 11 chair," while there are many 
individual chairs. Thus the true super-sensible world is re- 
garded by intellect as a world of unities which manifest them- 
selves in the multiplicities of the sense-world. And the typical 
view of intellect is that which regards the universal as a " law," 
and the supersensuous world as a " kingdom of laws." Thus 
we have the single law of gravitation. In the sense-world this 
manifests itself in an endless multiplicity of individual gravita- 
tional phenomena. Or again the universal is the law of 
electricity which appears in the sense-world in an infinity of 
forms and particular electrical phenomena, all of which are 
mere " examples " of the one law. 

478. Intellect is the attitude of mind adopted by most of 
the empirical sciences. It imagines that it can " explain " 
phenomena by referring them to their " laws." No doubt 
science does not realize the fact, but in doing this it is implicitly 
adopting the view that the universal, or the law, is the true 
and only reality, and that individual phenomena are mere 
appearances. For it finds the truth of all particular things 
and events in the laws which are said to 14 explain " them. 
That which " explains " is ipso facto regarded as a self-sub- 
sistent and independent being, i.e. as reality, while that which 
is explained is regarded as dependent for its being on the 
underlying essence which explains it, i.e. as appearance. Thus, 
for example, electricity itself is regarded as a reality, while 
lightning is only one form of electricity, i.e. one shape in which 


it appears. The lightning is a mere form, or shape, or guise, 
under which the reality is hidden. And so the same reality- 
appears in many different shapes, for example, as positive and 
negative electricity, as the invisible current in the telegraph 
wires, as the visible lightning, as magnetism, and so on. These 
are merely so many outer disguises or mere appearances. The 
true reality is the one force, identical in all these diverse forms, 
which remains hidden behind. But this one force which is 
identical in all its diversity of forms, is not itself any single 
individual thing or event or phenomenon. It is a universal. 
This is the point of view of science. 

479. The German word for Intellect here is Verstand, the 
same word which is elsewhere rendered understanding, as dis- 
tinguished from reason (Vernunft). The special characteristics 
of understanding as distinguished from reason are hardly 
emphasized by Hegel here under the head of intellect. None 
the less the connection is clear. Intellect puts the multiplicity 
of sense on one side as appearance, and the universal on the 
other as reality. It puts them in two different worlds. This 
separating and distinguishing character of intellect is what 
has elsewhere been recognized as the special mark of under- 
standing. Moreover, the point of view of intellect is funda- 
mentally the point of view of the categories of essence. Accord- 
ing to that point of view we find essence and appearance set 
over against each other as opposites. For intellect the 11 realm 
of laws," the supersensible world of universals, is the essence, 
while the sense-world is the appearance. Thus it would not 
be entirely misleading to translate Verstand at the heading of 
this sub-section by the word understanding. 



480. The distinguishing feature of consciousness proper, 
which included sensuous consciousness, sense-perception, and 
intellect, was (471) that the object was by it regarded 
as independent of the subject, as an impenetrable and alien 


existence, as simply and finally describable as the negative of 
the subject, as the not-self. The distinguishing feature of the 
new phase of consciousness, to which we now turn, is that it 
sees in the object, not an alien being, but simply itself. The 
object is itself, and when consciousness recognizes this it is 
self-consciousness. We have seen (470) that in the sphere of 
phenomenology the development of consciousness appears in 
the guise of a development or series of changes in the object. 

Thus the object first appeared as an isolated unit of sense, 
then as a compound of universal and singular, and lastly as 
the pure universal in the form of a 11 realm of laws." A 
further change now takes place. The supersensible world of 
universals, which was still, in intellect, a not-self, undergoes 
transformation and becomes subjectivity or self. Conscious- 
ness has already recognized that the truth and reality of the 
sense-world is the supersensible world of universals. It now 
takes a further step and recognizes that this world of universals 
is nothing but itself or its own subjectivity, and that in being 
conscious of an external world it is really only conscious of 
itself. The object is still an external object, but this external 
object is nevertheless itself. This new phase is accordingly 
entitled self-consciousness. 

The transition from consciousness proper to self-conscious- 
ness takes place as follows. Intellect finds the truth about the 
object to be that it is a pure universal. Now a universal is a 
thought. The object, therefore, is thought, and is of the 
nature of the subjective thinking self. But this is not all. 
Intellect, in regarding the multiplicity of the sense-world as 
appearance, and the unity of the universal as reality, is placing 
reality in the " one " and appearance in the " many." These 
it separates and keeps apart in two different worlds. But this 
separation turns out to be illusory. For the " one," or the 
universal, thus emptied of all particular content, is a mere 
blank. So far is it from being, as intellect supposes, the ful- 
ness of reality, that it is rather, on the contrary, a mere 
vacuum, or at best an empty form. And the " many " of 
sense, thus separated from the universal, is a blind and 
unintelligible medley. The phase of intellect is again only 


another attempt to avoid the contradiction of the object as a 
many-in-one by placing the many in this world and the one 
in that. Intellect believes that, if they are thus shut off from 
each other in different worlds, they cannot fight. But it is 
now evident that the one cannot exist without the other. 
Consequently the object has at last to be recognized as a 
one which is in itself many, or, what is the same thing, as a 
universality or unity, which of its own motion undergoes 
diremption into diversity. But the universal which splits 
itself into particularity, the 11 one 11 which puts itself forth 
from itself as an other, and yet remains in that other identical 
with itself, so that it gives rise to a distinction which is no 
distinction, — such a universal is neither more nor less than the 
Notion (307, 314 to 318). The Notion, however, is essentially 
subjectivity (321). Hence the object is now subjectivity. In 
other words, the subject sees that what is real in the object is 
simply itself. It sees its own pure image and reflection 
mirrored in the object. It finds there, no longer, an alien 
not-self, but its own very being. This is self-consciousness. 

481. The reasoning of the last section will be made clearer 
by reference to the " explanations " of phenomena through 
their laws which, we have seen, are offered by science. It is 
obvious that such " explanations " are entirely tautological. 
To explain a phenomenon by a law is merely to explain it by 
itself. For the event, stated in a universal form, is the law. 
Asked why a particular event happens, this kind of explanation 
merely says that it happens now because it always happens. 
Or again, to explain lightning by electricity is to put it as its 
own explanation. For lightning is electricity. And all the 
other various manifestations and forms of electricity are elec- 
tricity. If electricity is not identical with its various forms, 
then it must be possible to say what electricity is apart from 
the forms in which it appears. But apart from these forms 
it is evidently nothing whatever. Now this means that the 
" one," electricity, or force, or the law, or the universal, is 
not, as intellect supposes, something separate from, but is 
identical with, the u many," the multiplicity, the individual 
phenomena in which it manifests itself. Thus we get the same 


result as before, viz. that the 11 one " is the " many," that the 
object is a universal which undergoes self-partition into 
particularity, and so is the Notion, or subjectivity. Thus the 
truth about the object is not that it is the empty abstract 
universal of understanding (intellect), but the concrete 
universal, the Notion, which is identical with subjectivity. 

482. A crude but possible misunderstanding may here be 
avoided. When we say that the mind now recognizes the 
object as itself, it is not of course meant that the individual 
mind recognizes the object as a replica of its individual self. 
John Smith, looking at a house, has no right to say " That 
house is simply John Smith." It is mind in general, or con- 
sidered in its universal aspects (445) which sees universal mind 
in the object. So far as the universal mind is in John Smith 
he can indeed see himself in the house. But the part of him 
which he recognizes there is not his personal peculiarities, not 
what his mind is as this mind, but what mind is as mind. 

483. Self-consciousness undergoes development in three 
phases, (1) appetite or desire; (2) self-consciousness recog- 
nitive ; (3) universal self-consciousness. 

Sub-Section I 


484. Self-consciousness does not immediately and explicitly 
appear as what it is. It takes the form, in the first instance, 
of appetite or desire. For consciousness now recognizes that 
the object is itself. The object, however, still remains an 
external object, a part of the external world, a physical thing. 
But consciousness feels that this physical thing is, at bottom, 
itself. This situation involves a contradiction and a dishar- 
mony. For on the one hand the object is I, while on the other 
hand it is not- 1. On the one hand it is identical with me, on 
the other hand it is something independent of me, having a 
self-subsistence of its own. Thus the attitude of mind, at this 
stage, is composed of two factors, which are not in harmony 
with each other : (1) since the object of mind is simply mind 
itself, the attitude of mind is self-consciousness ; but (2) since 



the object is still an independent external thing, i.e. not mind 
itself, mind to that extent still occupies the position of con- 
sciousness proper. Hence mind has not yet completely 
emerged from its lower form of consciousness proper. Self- 
consciousness has not fully developed, but is still only half 
self-consciousness and half consciousness proper. 

Self-consciousness must, therefore, more fully develop itself ; 
it must become pure self-consciousness. It can only do so 
by getting rid of its lower factor of mere consciousness proper, 
which is, so to speak, dragging it down. Now this aspect of 
it as consciousness proper, of which it has to rid itself, is due 
to the fact that its object is still an independent not-self. On 
the one hand the object is identical with the self which thinks 
it, but still, on the other hand, it retains its independence as 
an external object. Self-consciousness, therefore, can only 
overcome this inner contradiction, can only develop itself into 
full self-consciousness, by abolishing this independent self- 
subsistence of its object. The impulse, which is thus generated, 
to abolish the independence of the object, is desire or appetite. 
And it carries out its purpose by destroying and consuming 
the object. Thus, in the simplest form of appetite, that of 
hunger, the object, i.e. the food, in the first instance stands 
over against me as an independent object. By consuming it 
I destroy its independent existence in the world, I make it 
part of myself, and it ceases to confront me as a not-self. 
Though this is most obvious in the case of hunger, all other 
desire or appetite has, according to Hegel, the same essential 
inner nature. It consists in the impulse to abolish the in- 
dependence of its object, to destroy its self-subsistence by 
making it a mere satellite of myself and so a part of me and 
my world. In its most simple form it takes the shape of 
actually destroying the object. 

Sub-Section II 

485. In the phase of desire, the object is still regarded as 
a lifeless physical thing, e.g. food. The individual ego has not 


yet come to recognize the existence of other egos in the world. 
Its objects have, through the entire development of mind up 
to the present, been things, not persons. Its position is, so to 
speak, solipsist. Nothing exists for it except itself and the 
physical objects which circle round it as their central sun. 
These objects it has recognized as being, at bottom, nothing 
other than itself, and any appearance of independence of itself 
it has, in desire, sought to destroy. 

The new phase of mind to which we now turn recognizes at 
last the existence of other selves in the world. Its object 
is now another self. It sees itself, not now in a mere physical 
object, but in another similar self. Since the other self is a 
reduplication of itself, since in this other it still sees itself, 
it is thus a mode of self-consciousness. And since it recognizes, 
what it did not recognize before, namely, the existence of other 
selves, it is called self-consciousness recognitive. 

486. How is this phase of mind deduced ? Since, in the 
sphere of phenomenology, all changes appear to be changes in 
the object, and not in the subject, the transition will be made 
from the object of desire to the new object, viz. the other 
self or selves. The physical object of desire will be seen to 
undergo transformation into a conscious ego. This may appear 
fantastic, but if the nature of Hegel's procedure here is grasped 
it will cease to appear so. Its seeming fantastic is due to the 
fact that we are apt to forget that it is only a logical trans- 
formation, and not a transformation in time, that is in view. 
It is not meant that, for example, a piece of bread ever actually, 
as a historical fact, turns into a person ! What is meant is 
that the idea of another self is implicit in the idea of a desired 
object, and may be logically deduced from it. The existence 
of desire is familiar to everyone as a fact. What Hegel has 
so far attempted to do is to bring to light the universal char- 
acter of desire, the essence of what in its hidden nature it is. 
And what he now proposes to do is to prove that when this 
essential inner nature of desire is understood it is seen to 
involve the further idea of the existence of consciousnesses 
other than the one who is subject to the desire. 

487. The actual deduction or transition is, however, not 



very easy. It is most clearly explained in the Phenomenology 
of Mind. The purpose which appetite has in view in con- 
suming its object is to destroy the independence of the object 
which appears to rival its own independence. The position 
occupied by self-consciousness at this stage is that the object 
is itself, has no independence of it, and consequently that it is 
itself the only independent self-subsistent being in the world. 
And because the object obstinately persists in maintaining that 
it also is an independent being, the ego proceeds to destroy it. 
In doing so it seeks to attain complete satisfaction of its sense 
of self, i.e. its sense that it alone truly is. But now a new 
difficulty arises. The very fact that the ego can only attain 
this triumphant sense of self by destroying the object shows 
that it is dependent on the object for its self-satisfaction. For 
if the object had not an independent existence the ego could 
not destroy its independence, and so could not attain self- 
satisfaction. Hence the ego is dependent on the object, and 
the object has again to that extent an independent being. 
In the very act of having its independence destroyed the 
independence of the object thus crops up again. The ego 
negates the object but is unable to get rid of it, or to attain 
its full sense of self, its feeling of being the sole independent 
occupant of the universe. Hence, if the self-consciousness of 
the ego is to develop to its full height, since the ego cannot 
negate the object, the object must negate itself. But when 
the object negates itself, it has become a consciousness, 
another self. For " since the object is in its very self negation 
and in being so is at the same time independent, it is con- 
sciousness." 1 

It is this last step in the argument which it is so difficult 
to follow. The statement is that what " negates itself " is 
consciousness. Apparently the idea is that consciousness is 
what puts itself forth from itself as an object. It thus makes 
a distinction within itself and gives rise to an other, the object. 
The object is then there, outside mind. But it has still to 
become known. By the act of knowing it the subject again 
brings it back into itself and so abolishes the distinction which 

1 Phen., i. p. 173. 


it made. In abolishing the distinction it negates the otherness 
of the other, it negates the other, and since the other is also 
itself, it thus negates itself. When the object of desire comes 
to negate itself, it is, in this way, consciousness. And so the 
object of desire undergoes transformation into another con- 
scious self, and we have self-consciousness recognitive. The 
transition is, however, extremely obscure. But the language 
of the Encyclopaedia seems to me to bear out this interpretation 
[Encyclopaedia^ § 429). 

488. But although the ego is now forced to recognize the 
existence of other egos, it must not be supposed that it at 
once accepts them into its world. The aim of the ego at present 
is to see in itself alone an independent self-subsistent being, 
and to destroy any independence that claims to. rival it. The 
other ego, just because it is an ego, claims an equal inde- 
pendence with the first ego. Each therefore seeks to destroy 
the other ego in order to retain its sense of being all reality. 
There follows a life and death struggle. But it soon becomes 
apparent that for one ego to destroy the other by death wculd 
defeat its own object and lead to a new contradiction. For self- 
consciousness is only self-consciousness in virtue of the fact 
that in the other self it contemplates its own self. To destroy 
the other self entirely would, therefore, be to destroy its con- 
templation of itself in the other, and in doing this, self-con- 
sciousness would destroy itself and so contradict and frustrate 
its aim of being the only self-consciousness. Therefore, in- 
stead of destroying the other self entirely by death, it now 
seeks to destroy only the independent selfhood of the other, 
and to reduce it to absolute dependence on itself. This result 
appears in history as the institution of slavery, in which the 
master alone retains independence, the slave being reduced to 
the level of a " thing." 

It will be observed that, in order to reach this result, there 
is necessary the condition that one ego is more powerful than 
the other, thereby attaining the mastery and reducing the 
other to slavery. Hegel makes, so far as I can see, no attempt 
to deduce this inequality, but merely empirically foists it in. 
Moreover it was impossible that, on his own principles, he ever 


could deduce this inequality. For such inequality is the result 
of the individual peculiarities of the antagonists, and forms 
no part of the universal essence of mind as mind, upon which 
alone the philosophy of spirit can dwell. 

489. Hegel remarks 1 that, in this institution of lordship 
and bondage, we have the emergence of the beginnings of 
man's social life. It rests upon force. Social institutions, 
therefore, begin in force. This does not mean, however, that 
society is founded on force and has force for its principle. 
The origin of a thing — this is one of the great lessons of idealism 
in general — gives no clue to its essential nature. Force is 
merely the " external commencement of states, not their 
underlying and essential principle." 2 

If these remarks were intended as a contribution to history, 
they might perhaps be criticized on various historical grounds. 
That the actual origin of social institutions is to be found in 
slavery is probably not true. But such a criticism would 
indicate a confusion as to HegePs method and meaning against 
which continual warning is necessary. Hegel is deducing the 
logical order of the phenomena of mind. The historical order 
may possibly be different. 

Sub-Section III 


490. We have now reached the stage at which one self- 
consciousness recognizes itself as alone independent and negates 
and abolishes the independence of the other. The slave, be- 
cause his independence is abolished, is not a self-consciousness, 
but remains only at the stage of consciousness proper. For 
independence consists in seeing that there is no genuine other 
to oneself, but that the supposed other is, at bottom, only 
one's self. And this also is self-consciousness, being conscious 
of one's self in the other. Hence, self-consciousness and in- 
dependence being the same thing, the slave in losing the 
latter loses the former also. His position, therefore, is merely 
that of consciousness. And his object, consequently, is not 

1 Phil, of Mind, § 433. 2 Ibid. 


another self, but only inanimate things to which he takes up 
the position of appetite. Yet he does not, for that reason, 
destroy the object, but now works on it and moulds it by his 
labour for the enjoyment of his master. 

Two results follow from this. In the first place the self- 
consciousness of the master finds that its independence is 
dependent upon the slave. For it is only by negating the 
independence of the other ego that it retains its independence. 
This independence, therefore, contradicts itself, and turns out 
to be a dependence. 

Secondly, the slave through work and labour, attains to 
independence and self-consciousness. For in moulding the 
object he alters it by putting himself into it. It is no longer 
a mere independent object but is what his will makes it. It 
is now dependent upon him. And in abolishing its indepen- 
dence he attains self-consciousness, for it is the independence 
of the object which constitutes consciousness proper, and the 
abolition of this independence which brings about the develop- 
ment of self-consciousness. In putting himself 'into the object 
he sees himself there, and this awareness of himself in the other 
is self-consciousness. 

Thus the master finds that his own independence is de- 
pendent on the slave. This very fact proves the independence 
of the slave ; and the master in being forced to recognize his 
independence recognizes him as another self-consciousness. For 
independence and self-consciousness are the same. The slave 
also now knows himself as a self- consciousness. Hence each 
now recognizes and accepts the other as a self-consciousness. 
The position to which mind has now attained is therefore this, 
that instead of the ego recognizing only itself as the sole 
self-conscious independent being in the universe, it now 
recognizes other egos as self-conscious beings. This mutual 
acceptance of all egos by each other is universal self- 



491. The ego now recognizes the independence of other egos. 
But since the other ego is for my self-consciousness another 
self-consciousness, it is therefore simply and solely myself. 
Ego has ego for its object. In contemplating the other it 
contemplates only itself. There are, therefore, two factors 
present here. Firstly, the object is an independent other. 
Secondly, the object is only myself, i.e. is not an independent 
other. The subject admits the distinction between itself and 
its object, but yet asserts that this distinction is no distinction, 
that the distinction is within itself. The subject has the object 
over against it but yet overlaps and overreaches the object 
and keeps it within itself. This is the point of view of reason 
(Vernunft). For reason is the principle which while admitting 
the distinction sees also the underlying identity. It is the 
principle of the identity of opposites. The object is now both 
distinct from the subject and yet identical with it. 

It will be observed that reason, as the third member of 
the triad, — consciousness, self-consciousness, reason, — is the 
unity of the other two. The position of consciousness is that 
the object is independent, is distinct from the subject. The 
position of self-consciousness is that the object is identical 
with the subject. Reason combines these two abstract posi- 
tions in a synthesis. The object is now both distinct from the 
subject and identical with it. It is identity in difference. 



492. The soul, which was treated in anthropology, was a 
monad which included in itself all existence and had nothing 
outside it. This, however, was only because nothing else, no 
object, had yet come into existence. In phenomenology the 
mind, now as consciousness, underwent diremption, split in 
two, put forth part of itself as an external object confronting 
it and conditioning it. Thus the soul was the subjective spirit 
in a state of implicitness, of undifferentiated simple unity. It 
was the subjective spirit 41 in itself. " Consciousness was the 
putting itself forth of the subjective spirit into otherness, into 
opposition to itself in an object. It was the subjective spirit 
" out of itself.* * Mind, as treated in psychology, is the return 
into itself of the subjective spirit, its return enriched from its 
going forth in consciousness. It is the subjective spirit 41 in 
and for itself." 

493. For we have already reached, in reason (491), the 
position that the subject overlaps the object, takes it back 
into itself, abolishes its externality and otherness. Spirit, 
when it thus sees that its object is no independent reality, but 
is nothing but itself — spirit, when it thus knows itself to be 
all reality, is the truth and highest phase of the subjective 
spirit. It is mind. The whole struggle of the ego, within the 
range of consciousness, was to know itself as the sole reality. 
But this it at first attempted to do by denying, ignoring, or 
destroying, the independent object which set up to be a 
reality in opposition to it. Finally, however, it was led to 
accept the object by the knowledge that this object is not an 



independent reality but is its own self. Thus the object returns 
into the subject. The distinction becomes a distinction within 
the compass of the subject itself, so that once more the subject 
alone is what is. This is mind. And the treatment of it is 
what Hegel calls psychology. 

494. The word for mind here is Geist, which is equally well 
translated spirit, and is the same word which is used to describe 
the subject matter of the philosophy of spirit in general. 
Thus the word mind or spirit has two meanings for Hegel, 
a wider and a narrower, which must be kept apart. Firstly, 
it signifies in general the spiritual being whose development 
begins in anthropology and is continued throughout the whole 
philosophy of spirit. Secondly, it signifies in particular the 
highest phase of subjective spirit with which we are about to 
deal in this chapter. We have already seen instances of 
similar double uses of words by Hegel — for example, Idea 
may mean in general the subject matter of the whole Logic, 
or it may mean the last sphere of the categories of the Notion. 
Words standing for categories or mental states are not sufficient 
to go round. Hence one word has sometimes to be used twice, 
or even thrice, over. 

495. Mind is now no longer confronted with an alien object. 
Hence it is no longer sensuous perception or any kindred 
state. For such phases of mind are fettered to an external 
world. This is obviuusly true of sense-perception. It is 
also true of that kind of self-consciousness which has other 
selves for its object. For these other selves are part of the 
external world. Now, however, it is the free acts of the mind 
itself, mind which has risen above the external world and 
operates in a world of its own, which we shall have before us. 
Such acts are those of representation, thinking and willing. 
What in this sphere corresponds to sensuous perception is 
representation, the reproduction of mental imagery, etc. The 
object of the mind in such imagery is not an external object, 
but a mental picture or image, which is within the mind, and 
is its own free activity. Thinking and willing, likewise, are 
free acts of the mind which has risen above the external world 
and now operates in its own sphere. 



496. Mind, as the subject matter of psychology, falls into 
three sub-divisions: (1) theoretical mind, i.e. cognition, (2) 
practical mind, i.e. volition, (3) free mind. The transition from 
theoretical mind to practical mind will be given in its place. 
But meanwhile the necessity of the development of both 
within this sphere is foreshadowed in the notion of mind itself 
which has just been given. For the mind is, as stated, not 
now dealing with any alien object, but with what is its own. 
This content, which is its own, in the first place is, has being. 
The mind, so to speak, comes across or finds this content 
within itself. It thus has the aspect of dealing with something 
that is already in existence and which it finds, and this aspect 
of it is cognition. But secondly, this content is its own, and 
as such is not something simply found by it, but is, on the 
contrary, something made by it. This making and moulding 
of the content as its own is the practical side of mind, its aspect 
as volition. 



497. Theoretical mind is mind in its immediacy. For 
although the content of mind is its own, it does not at first 
realize this. In the first instance its content simply is. It 
is there, has immediacy, being, is found existing. And the 
attitude of intelligence to what it finds already before it can 
only be the attitude of coming to know this something which 
it finds there, i.e. knowledge, cognition or theoretical mind. 1 
The phases of its development are its gradual elevation to 
the realization that its content is its. These phases are, (1) 
intuition, (2) representation, (3) thinking. 

Sub-Section I 


498. The first phase is of course the phase of immediacy. 2 
We shall find no mediation in it. But at the same time it is 

1 See § 239 above. * See § 239 above. 


essentially cognition, a free act of mind which, as such, will 
have something of the nature of judgment or thinking, though 
these are not yet developed. Such immediate cognition, such 
a judgment which is yet not a judgment, is intuition. It 
cannot be a judgment because judgment involves mediation. 
And yet it is a cognition. It will therefore be a feeling, based 
on no grounds — for to be based on grounds is to be mediated 
— that a thing is so. It is the instinctive feeling, the intuitive 
perception of a fact. We all experience instinctive feelings, 
that such and such a fact is true, though we can assign no 
reasons for it. This may apply in the moral, religious, political, 
or any other sphere. This is intuition. 

499. Intuition is often supposed to be something very ex- 
alted and grand, something far more sublime than the work 
of thinking. And at the present day there are not wanting 
even philosophers who apparently take this view. But here 
we see that Hegel gives intuition its place as the very lowest 
of the free acts of mind. And he indicates at the same time 
the characteristic defect of intuition, its subjectivity. An 
intuition may contain the truth, but it exhibits it in the form 
of untruth, in the form of something peculiar and private to 
the intuiting ego. It is merely a subjective impression of the 
individual, and lacks all universality. 

500. According to Hegel intuition involves two factors 
which are of importance in the further development of mind. 
Firstly, it involves attention, which is the fixing of the direction 
of the mind, — the direction in which the ego collects itself 
together and concentrates itself in a special way. Attention 
comes to light for the first time here because it is a free act 
of mind, and therefore has not been involved in the previous 
phases of soul and consciousness. It is only now, in the sphere 
of psychology, in the treatment of mind (in the narrower 
sense) that free acts of mind, such as attention, have place. 

Secondly, the feeling which constitutes intuition is, like all 
mere feeling, something subjective and merely inward. But 
because intuition is a form of cognition, a feeling that such 
and such a thing is so, it is not purely subjective but involves 
a reference to objectivity, to an outward. It thus implies the 



outwardization of the inward feeling, its projection into time 
and space, as something existent. Thus intuition is not solely 
feeling. It is only when the two elements of attention and 
outwardization are present that it is a fully developed intuition. 

Sub-Section II 


501. Intuition is thus something both outward and inward. 
But the outwardness is the result of the activity of the mind 
itself. It is the mind which has itself outwardized the feeling. 
This outward is therefore its own, or in other words, it is an 
inward. The intuition thus freed from the external reference 
and made inward is representation ( Vorstellung). 1 Representa- 
tion passes through the three phases of recollection, imagina- 
tion, and memory. 

A. Recollection. 

502. The outward has become inward. What was, there- 
fore, in external time and space, now passes into an inward or 
subjective time and space. It is then an image or picture. 
Thus the actual rose is in outward space. But my mental 
image of a rose is pictured as in a space which is just as im- 
aginary and inward as the representation of the rose itself. 
Thus we have recollection. 

503. The image is transient and disappears (this fact Hegel 
does not deduce but merely asserts). But it is not thereby 
obliterated from the mind. It is stored up in the sub-conscious 
ready to reappear at any time. Hegel explains this by the 
contrast of implicit and explicit, potential and actual. The 
ego which, in itself, in its implicitness, is a blank and empty 
universality, is yet, because it is the Notion (321) a self- 
differentiating universality, and as such is the potentiality of 
its specific contents. The disappeared image has retired into 
the black pit of the mind's potentiality. Hence to talk of 
images, ideas, etc., as actually " existing " in the sub-conscious 

1 This is the only meaning, vague and doubtful though it may be, that 
I have been able to extract from the extremely obscure passage in which 
Hegel makes this transition (Phil, of Mind, § 450). 


is as foolish as to suppose that the oak exists in the acorn in 
the sense that a powerful enough microscope would reveal the 
actual parts and members of the oak. 

The image, being a picture of the thing as removed from 
its relations and connections with other particular things, loses 
its particularity, and takes on a universal character. It be- 
comes a generalized image stored up in the sub-conscious. 
When we receive a new impression it is subsumed under the 
appropriate generalized image, and this act constitutes remem- 
brance (or perhaps we might simply call it recognition). 

B. Imagination. 

504. The mind thus continually produces from the sub- 
conscious a flow of such images and remembrances. When it 
does so we have the reproductive imagination. 

These images, however, are representative, or universal in 
character, and each fresh impression as it comes into the ego 
is subsumed under such a universality. The particular image 
thus comes to stand for something more than itself, namely, the 
universal. Thus the particular image of the lion becomes the 
sign of lions in general. There thus arises a system of signs, 
which when fully developed, becomes language. 

C. Memory. 

505. In language the word, which is a vocal sign, or sound, 
is a thing which exists in the external world. It is an outward. 
But by being received into consciousness it becomes an in- 
ward. It itself becomes an image. By becoming an inward 
which is fused with the universal for which it stands, the name 
or word, comes to be used by itself in intelligence, and itself 
does the work which was formerly done by a flow of imagery. 
When we thus come to think in names, memory is fully de- 
veloped. 44 Given the name lion, we need neither the actual 
vision of the animal, nor its image even : the name alone, if 
we understand it, is the unimaged simple representation. We 
think in names. 1 ' 1 Thus pure memory tends to become, in a 

1 Phil, of Mind, § 462. 



sense, meaningless. 44 A composition is, as we know, not 
thoroughly conned by rote, until one attaches no meaning 
to the words." 1 

Sub-Section III 


506. Memory constitutes the transition from mere imagery 
to thought proper. When the image, as an image, is sup- 
pressed, what is left is a thought. Thus we see in the passage 
quoted above that 44 the name alone, if we understand it," is 
sufficient. This understanding of it, without images, is think- 
ing. This does not mean, of course, that, as a psychological 
fact, thought is never accompanied by images. That would 
be contrary to obvious facts. But though thought may be, 
and usually is, accompanied by imagery, the very fact that it 
is so accompanied means that it itself is not the imagery, i.e. 
that it is itself imageless. 

507. The process of transition to memory and thinking has 
taken place by the fusion between the universal for which the 
word stands and the particular representation which is sub- 
sumed under it. In this fusion the representation, as 3. repre- 
sentation, i.e. as an image, has disappeared. Its immediacy, or 
particularity, however, remains in the product, thought, which 
is accordingly a unity of the universal with the immediate. 
And since immediacy as such is being, is what is there, what is 
this things a thought is accordingly a unity of universality and 
being. Being is the side of objectivity. Hence the char- 
acteristic of thought is that it overlaps the distinction between 
itself and being, between subjectivity and objectivity. " It 
knows that what is thought, is, and that what is, only is in so 
far as it is a thought." 2 Thought is itself the unity of thought 
and being, of itself and its other. So that the position is 
again made explicit that thought sees in its object only 
itself. Hegel remarks that this position, which has already 
occurred at the end of the sphere of consciousness, must 
needs continually reappear, because it is the essential truth 
of philosophy. 

» Phil, of Mind, § 463. 2 jtid. § 465. 


508. Thinking has its content, which is the side of immediacy 
or being. Considered in abstraction from this content, i.e. 
as being mere universality, it is formal identity, that is to 
say, it is (a) understanding which works up its material into 
species, genera, laws, etc. But because this content is essen- 
tially itself, it is therefore thought itself which splits itself 
in twain, and puts forth this content. As being this partition 
(Urtheil) thought is (b) judgment. But finally as superseding 
and abolishing the distinction, as bringing it back into unity 
with itself, it is (c) reason. 


509. Thought now knows that its content is itself, and 
therefore that it determines its own content. The world is 
therefore no longer regarded as a hard mass intractable and 
alien to thought, but on the contrary as essentially made what 
it is, moulded, acted upon, and determined by thought. The 
subject thus moulding the world by its own activity is will, 
or practical mind. The transition here is at bottom the same 
as the transition in the Logic from cognition proper to volition 
(402), except that there is no reference here to the element 
of necessity. 

510. Will undergoes development through the phases of 
(1) practical sense, or feeling, (2) the impulses and choice, 
(3) happiness. 

Sub-Section I 


511. Though intelligence, as will, knows its object as itself 
and as wholly determined by itself, and though it is, as such, 
free and infinite, it does not in the first instance attain to that 
position. It appears first as practical feeling. 

In the sphere of consciousness, the ego was confronted with 
an object. In the present sphere, that of mind (psychology), 
the object has, in general, been absorbed into the ego, and 



appears within it, as its content Now will has arisen dialecti- 
cally from cognition, or theoretical mind. And it takes over 
from cognition the content of the latter. The difference 
between will and cognition is that the content in cognition is 
not determined by it, whereas intelligence as will determines 
its content. In its first phase, however, will is immediate. 
And it therefore finds its content, as something already given 
to it. 1 No doubt this content is now determined by it, and 
so conformable to, and in harmony with it. But this con- 
formability is not its own act, but is merely found to be so. 
Hence will appears here merely as the feeling that the existent 
fact, the content, is, or is not, conformable to it. This is the 
feeling of the pleasant or unpleasant. 

As such it is, of course, an instinct to action. But it is 
only an instinct. It has not yet actually issued in action. 
And, moreover, because it is immediate, it is not governed by 
any universal rule or principle, since such universality involves 
mediation. It is not a decision to act upon a principle, but, 
in its absolute particularity and immediateness, it is a mere 
feeling or instinct towards this or that immediate object. 
This is practical feeling. 

Such feeling may appear in the moral, religious, or political 
spheres, but in such cases it is the instinctive and unreasoned 
(unmediated), or int0tive, feeling that the subject should act 
in such and such a way. 

512. Hegel here introduces a diatribe against those who 
appeal to mere feeling, the " heart," the breast, inspiration, 
intuition, and so on, against the utterances of reason and the 
practical dictates of a rationally controlled will and intelli- 
gence. Such disputes between the " heart " or feelings, on 
the one side, and reason on the other, involve at least two 
fallacies. In the first place they involve the abstract separa- 
tion of the mind into " faculties." Feeling cannot be thus 
set up against reason when once it is realized that feeling 
and reason are not two things, but one thing in different 
phases of its development. The mind or spirit is not a pack 
of externally connected 11 faculties " feelings, will, reason, etc. 

1 See § 239 above. 


4i We must not imagine that man is on one side thinking and 
on another side willing, as though he had will in one pocket 
and thought in another." 1 Mind is a single being appearing 
in serially developed phases, will, thought, feeling, etc. It is 
absurd, therefore, to ask whether feeling is right or thought 
is right, for feeling and thought are the same thing in different 
forms. But secondly, if we must prefer one to the other, it 
is certainly to rational cognition, rather than to feeling, that 
we must award preference. For reason stands to feeling as 
the more to the less developed phase of spirit. Because feeling 
is immediate, it lacks universality. Thought on the other 
hand is essentially the universal. That which lacks univer- 
sality cannot be a law, for it is characteristic of law to be 
universal. Hence my feelings are a law to no one but myself. 
They are merely private and subjective, whereas my reason is 
also the universal reason of all men, of all rational beings. 
Hence attempts to found morality, political institutions, and 
the like, upon the feelings, are foredoomed to failure. How, 
for example, can morality, which is not a mere private affair 
of my own, but is essentially a law, and a law for all, be 
founded upon feelings which have no validity outside the 
sanction of my personal consciousness ? 

513. Nevertheless it is, of course, possible that in a particular 
instance a man's feelings may be right where his reasoned con- 
clusions would lead him wrong. One remembers the advice 
given by an experienced official to a raw one : 11 act as you 
think right, but do not give your reasons. For your instinct 
will be right, but your reasons will be wrong." Such human 
phenomena, however, are due to the fact that feeling is im- 
plicitly thought, and is therefore guided by unrealized reason. 
The lower phase, here as in the Logic, always contains the 
higher phase implicitly. The feelings are implicitly universal 
and contain thought as their inner substance. But this uni- 
versality is here hidden under the guise of particularity and 
immediacy. The undeveloped human being, therefore, follow- 
ing his instincts and feelings, may often act rationally, because 
instinct is the highest phase of reason which he has yet 
1 Phil, of Right, § 4 Addition. 



developed. Whereas, if he attempted to move upon the higher 
plane of rational cognition he would inevitably go wrong, just 
because such cognition is a higher plane, a plane on which he 
has not yet learned to move. Thus, though it may often be 
a good piece of practical advice to tell a certain type of man 
to trust his instincts, or his " heart,' 9 rather than his " head," 
this provides no justification whatever for attempting philo- 
sophically to found morals or politics upon the feelings, or 
to exalt feeling above reason. Reason, the universal, is, in 
fact, the foundation of the world, and it is the foundation of 
all forms of spirit, including the feelings themselves. 

Sub-Section II 


514. Practical feeling contains a contradiction, which is its 
dialectic. For, on the one hand, it merely finds its content 
conformable or not conformable to itself ; but, on the other 
hand, it is essential to it as a mode of will that this conform- 
ability should be its own act. It is contrary to the very nature 
of will that it should merely find the world and leave it as 
it is. Its essence is rather to mould the world into conformity 
with itself, to act, and in acting to alter and shape its object. 
It develops, therefore, propensities for such action, and these 
propensities are what are called the impulses. Impulse, in- 
clination, interest, — are so many different names for this 
phase of intelligence. If the intelligence throws itself wholly 
into the fulfilment of one impulse, to the exclusion of all others, 
this impulse is then called a passion. 

515. Hegel here makes the important remark that the im- 
pulses should not be excluded, as was done by Kant, from the 
moral life. Kant supposed that duty must be done solely for 
duty's sake, out of respect for the law, and never from in- 
clination. Even if an act were in itself good, yet, if it were 
done from inclination and not from duty, it lost, in Kant's 
opinion, all moral value. 41 But," says Hegel," impulse and 
passion are the very life-blood of all action." 1 " Nothing 

1 Phil. of Mind, § 475. 


great has been and nothing great can be accomplished without 
passion. 1 ' 1 Kant's false and abstract view is based upon the 
separation of the mind into independent " faculties." The 
" practical reason," the " categorical imperative" is here on 
the one side. The impulses and inclinations are over against 
these on the other side, usually warring against the practical 
reason, but in any case quite independent of it. But as soon as 
it is seen that these very impulses have the 14 practical reason " 
implicit in them, are themselves only an inchoate and unde- 
veloped form of it, such an abstract view becomes impossible. 

516. There is a multiplicity of impulses. Each is a particular 
impulse. But the will is one and universal. It therefore 
distinguishes itself, as one and universal, from its diversified 
content, its impulses, as multiple and particular. It now, 
therefore, stands above them, and chooses between them. 
This is the element of choice in the life of will. In order fully 
to understand this it is necessary again to advert to the unity 
of mental life and the fallacy of splitting it up into faculties. 
It might be objected to the deduction of choice, just given, 
that the will is the impulses, and that it is not the will which 
stands above them and contemplates them, but the I, the 
pure ego, which is cognitive rather than volitional. The 
answer is that the will is the I, the pure ego. The I thinking 
is cognition. The I acting is will. It is one and the same I 
which is both. 

Sub-Section III 


517. The will is universal, because it is the I, and the I 
is a pure identity or universality represented by the equation 
1 = 1. The satisfaction of the will, the accomplishment of its 
work, consists in conforming its content to itself. Therefore, 
since the will is universal, its satisfaction can only be attained 
by making its content universal. Each impulse, however, is 
nothing but a particular impulse, and its object is a particular 
object. Therefore intelligence, as will, does not find satisfac- 
tion in the gratification of these particular impulses and 

* Ibid. §474- 



inclinations. Unsatisfied by the gratification of one impulse, 
it plunges at once into the next impulse, seeking satisfaction 
there but only finding the same result. There results a pro- 
gress ad infinitum. Hence the will is led to seek a universal 
satisfaction, which is not to be found in any particular impulse. 
This universal satisfaction which it seeks is happiness. 


518. Will now finds that its object must be universal. But 
in happiness no true universality is found. For although the 
will has now abandoned the belief that it can attain satisfaction 
in any particular impulse, yet the universal satisfaction which 
it seeks in happiness can only be pursued through and by 
means of the particular impulses. For the will has no other 
content. And however much it may seek to attain happiness 
by postponing or preferring one impulse to another, by sub- 
ordinating this inclination to that, by systematizing and con- 
trolling its interests, yet in the end it is only this or that 
particular impulse which is preferred and followed, and which 
does not yield satisfaction. 

This lack of satisfaction the will can only remedy by taking 
as its object a genuine out-and-out universal. But it is itself 
universal. Hence its path will now lie in making itself its 
own object. It must put itself forth into the world and there 
contemplate itself in objectivity. This process is not com- 
pleted till we pass to objective spirit. But the phase of 
transition Hegel calls the free mind. What is essential to 
the free mind is that it is will which has itself for its object. 
As such it is fyee will. For freedom consists in not being 
limited by an other. In impulse the will is not free because 
its impulse and its object, which determine it, are something 
other than itself. But free mind knows its other, its object, 
to be itself, and knows itself, therefore, as self-determined, 
and self-limited, i.e. as free. And because it is self-determined 
it is also infinite. 




519. Subjective spirit meant the spirit considered as inward. 
Objective spirit means the spirit which has issued forth from 
its inwardness and subjectivity, and embodied itself in an 
external and outward world. This external world is not the 
world of nature, which is already found existing by spirit. 
It is a world which spirit creates for itself in order to become 
objective, existent, and effective in the actual world. It is in 
general the world of institutions. This means, not merely the 
positive institutions of law, society, and the state, but in- 
cludes also customs and manners, the rights and duties of the 
individual, morality and ethical observance. In what order 
and in what way these various kinds of external institutions 
develop themselves we shall see in the sequel. The present 
remarks are merely anticipatory. These institutions are 
essentially intelligence, i.e. spirit, solidified in the world, and 
hence they are objective spirit. 

520. The deduction of objective spirit, i.e. the proof that 
subjective spirit must now pass over into objectivity, is im- 
plicitly contained in the idea of free mind with which the 
sphere of subjective spirit closed. The will is universal, for 
it is simply the ego in its phase of acting, just as cognition is 
the ego in its phase of thinking. The ego, however, is the 
I = 1, a simple unity with itself, an abstract self-identity. As 
such self-identity it contains within itself no diversity or 
particularity. And as not yet having sundered into particu- 
larity it is simple universality. And since the will, i.e. the 
I acting, can find no satisfaction in any particular impulse 




(517), it must, in consequence will the universal. But in spite 
of its universality it is itself an individual. As subjective it 
is simply this I. In willing the universal, therefore, it wills 
what transcends its mere subjectivity ; it wills the objective. 
For what is universal stands opposed to what is merely private 
and personal to me as an individual. Thus universality and 
objectivity are equivalent terms. (This can be very clearly 
seen by anyone who will study the period of the Sophists and 
Socrates. The principle of the Sophists was that what I, in 
my mere particularity, think, is the truth for me. They denied 
any universal criterion of the truth. And hence, since the 
truth is not subject to any universal standard, it is merely the 
private and personal affair of my subjectivity. Socrates saw 
that to deny universality meant denying objectivity. Only if 
the truth is regarded as universal can it be objective. What 
is true merely for me is subjective. But the truth which is 
sanctioned by a universal criterion is independent of my indivi- 
dual views and personal impressions, and is therefore objective.) 

521. Thus objective spirit is based upon the activity of the 
will. Institutions are the work of the will putting itself forth 
into the world, moulding the crude material of the world into 
a new world of mind. And in this activity the will has two 
aspects. Firstly in willing the universal, it wills itself. For 
universality is its very substance. It is for this reason that 
the new world which it creates is not merely objective, but is 
spiritual (objective spirit). It is itself which the spirit puts 
forth into the world. This spirituality or, what is the same 
thing, this universality of the institutions which intelligence 
sets up are seen in the very fact that their essence is to be 
universal. Thus morality is no private affair of mine ; it is 
a law, i.e. a universal. The state, again, has as its very 
essence the universality of purpose and interest which stand 
opposed to the particular and private purposes of individuals. 
The very meaning of an institution is that it is something 
universal. But universality is the mark of mind or spirit. 
And hence the institutions of morality, the state, etc., are 
essentially a manifestation of spirit. 

522. If the first aspect of the activity of the will, in this 


sphere, is that it wills itself, its second aspect is that it wills 
what transcends itself, and what is, therefore, not merely 
subjective, but objective. The will is, on the one hand, 
universal ; it is the 1 = 1. On the other hand it is individual ; 
it is this I. In willing the universal, it, as universal, wills 
itself ; and in willing the universal, it, as individual, wills 
what transcends itself, the objective. For its aspect as 
individual is the aspect of its subjectivity. Hence, combining 
these two aspects, what the will produces by its action is 
(i) spiritual, (2) objective. It is thus objective spirit. 

523. Because it wills itself it is essentially freewill. Objec- 
tive spirit, therefore, is founded on the notion of free will. 
Institutions are the embodiments of freedom. Laws are the 
conditions of freedom. In being governed by the law I am 
being governed by the universal, and by the universal which 
I myself have projected into the world ; and I am therefore 
governed by myself, and am free. In actual history, of course, 
there have been and are bad and unjust laws. Such laws, 
however, are not an embodiment of the universal, and are 
consequently manifestations of unfreedom. Thus a law made 
solely in the interests of a particular class, or even of a par- 
ticular individual (e.g. the king in an undeveloped primitive 
despotism may make laws to benefit only himself), do not 
proceed from the universal essence of spirit as spirit. On the 
contrary they embody the private and particular aims of 
individuals which are opposed to the universal. In obeying 
such laws, therefore, I am not governed by myself, but am 
in bondage. But the inherent nature of law, as true law, is 
to embody universality, i.e. to embody myself. 

524. Hegel's treatment of objective spirit thus covers those 
parts of philosophy which are usually called ethics and politics. 
It also contains a philosophy of law. But his ethical and 
political theories differ from those of most other philosophers 
in this, that they are not regarded as detached portions of 
philosophy, but are developed in their proper places in the 
organic unity of the system. Another philosopher might pro- 
duce a metaphysic, and then an ethic, and then perhaps an 
aesthetic, — as if all these were separate subjects, or at best as 



if they were connected merely by some loose bond of analogy 
or similarity of procedure. To go about things in this purely 
empirical way, pecking here and there at bits of the universe, 
considering isolated problems and producing isolated solutions, 
is of course abhorrent to the systematic procedure of Hegel. 
For him everything must be deduced, and its necessity shown. 
Everything must appear — not hanging in the air — but in its 
proper place in the organic whole which is the universe. The 
philosophy of objective spirit, therefore, does not take up 
institutions, laws, moral codes, etc., haphazard as they chance 
to present themselves. It deduces them from one another in 
their proper order. 

525. To deduce an institution is to show its necessity, to 
show that there is a logical necessity, a necessity of reason, 
that it should arise at the place and in the way in which it 
does arise. Hence all the institutions which we study in 
objective spirit are regarded by Hegel as the necessary forms 
in which reason embodies itself. From this point of view it 
is seen that all theories which regard laws, morals, social 
institutions, etc., as mere shifts, mechanical contrivances 
introduced for the sake of expediency or convenience, are 
shallow and worthless. That there should be the institutions 
of property, contract, law, government, family, etc. — this is a 
rational necessity. None of these things are mere expedients 
and contrivances for bringing about adventitious ends. Each 
and all of them are the essential and necessary forms in which 
spirit embodies itself in the world. They are the manifestation 
of reason. They are phases of the necessary self-evolution of 
the Idea. They are steps in the progress by which the Absolute 
becomes, in the world-process, conscious of itself and of what 
it is. They are themselves manifestations of the Absolute, 
and, as such, have absolute validity. They are not merely 
human devices for securing unessential ends, for satisfying 
subjective wants which have no meaning in the world-process. 
The view which thinks that human beings happen to be here, 
and happen to be constituted in such and such a way, and to 
have such and such needs for the securing of which they 
" invent " morals, laws, society, etc., but that all this is 


indifferent to the essential purpose of the world — if it has any 
purpose — such a view Hegel regards as false and worthless. 
Institutions are not 41 invented/' They necessarily are ; they 
arise from the very nature of things, and express the inner 
meaning of the universe. The views that the state is a mutual 
agreement of all with all for the protection of life and property, 
that punishment is justifiable only as a deterrent, that morality 
is based on expediency and utility, are from this point of 
view, seen to be essentially worthless. 

526. The general view of ethics here developed may profit- 
ably be compared with the ethics of Kant. Kant saw that 
morality, as being a universal and a law, cannot be founded 
upon what is not universal, upon feelings, private intuitions, 
empirical standards of utility, etc. It must be founded upon 
the universal element in man, that is, upon reason. But 
reason, for Kant, meant the abstract understanding whose 
canon is empty identity. Hence his principle of morals was 
that the individual must act upon universal maxims and rules. 
He must so act that he could, without self-contradiction, will 
the maxim upon which he acted to be a universal law. Thus 
a man must not break his promise, because if the breaking of 
promises were erected into a universal rule, promises themselves 
would cease to exist, and we should thus have a self-con- 
tradiction. All this amounts to, however, is that right action 
is defined as self- consistent action, action which does not con- 
tradict itself. Therefore, if a man could contrive to be 
consistently evil he would obey the Kantian maxim. Mere 
consistency, obedience to the formal laws of identity and 
contradiction, can never yield a concrete moral code, any 
more than mere consistency in logic can yield material truth. 
It is impossible to extract from this abstract universal any 
content whatever. No doubt, for example, to break a promise 
is self-contradictory, if the institution of promises exists in 
the world. But why should this institution exist at all ? 
Kant's principles afford no answer. 

Hegel, like Kant, founds morality upon reason, upon the 
universal. But the universal in his case is not the empty and 
abstract universal of the understanding. It is the concrete 



universal, the Notion. The concrete universal produces its 
content, i.e. its differentia and species, out of itself. It is, 
therefore, capable of yielding, not merely an empty principle 
of identity and consistency, but the concrete body of in- 
stitutions which make up the content of morality and the 
state. It tells us, not merely that if there are promises, they 
must be kept, but also how and why there must be promises. 
The institution of contract (promise) is deduced. And so with 
the institutions of property, marriage, criminal law, etc. Thus 
the Hegelian ethic contains all that is true, good, and noble, 
in Kant's ethical system without its defects. What was great 
in Kant was that he repudiated shallow utilitarian views 
which would make the moral law conditional on circumstances, 
which would make it a mere human contrivance without any 
foundation in the essential being of the universe, and exhibited 
it instead as having an absolute and unconditional validity in 
this or any rational universe. His defect was that the idea 
of morality remained in his hands an empty abstraction, 
without body. Hegel is equally the champion of the claim 
of morals to essential nobility, to absolute validity, but with 
him morality is no longer an empty name, but is replete with 
content Kant's absurd view that duty must be done without 
passion or inclination is due to the same defect of abstraction, 
and is equally impossible for Hegel. 

527. The freedom of the will is likewise vindicated by Hegel. 
But, as with Kant, freedom is not interpreted as mere caprice, 
motiveless action, but as autonomy, self-determination. The 
will is free if and so far as it wills the universal. That is to 
say, if its acts are in accordance with right, with the law 
(moral or legal), it is free. For the law of right is its own law. 
It is its own universality which it has produced out of itself 
and erected in objectivity. The universality of the ego is, 
subjectively, merely the self-identical 1 = 1. When this is 
made objective, it can only appear as an objective universal, 
i.e. a law. In obeying the law I obey only my essential and 
true self. But if the action of the will is contrary to right, if 
it contradicts the universal, and proceeds merely according to 
its private, particular, and selfish, interests, it is then not free. 


For these selfish interests are notthe embodiment of the true 
self whose essential is universality. They belong to man as a 
part of nature rather than as a spirit. And the will is, in such 
case, rather to be regarded as still in bondage to nature. And 
this is genuinely bondage, unfreedom, because to be ruled by 
nature is to be ruled by the external world, by what is not me. 

528. If it be asked what justification there is for distin- 
guishing between the 44 true M self and any other part of the 
self, and why its aspect of universality should be regarded as 
11 true " rather than its aspect of particularity, the answer is 
simple. Feeling, appetite, impulse, have been deduced in their 
proper places in the foregoing pages. In the dialectic develop- 
ment of subjective spirit it will be seen that these particular 
and immediate aspects of spirit appear early, and that the 
universal aspects of spirit, both as cognition and as will, are 
the last to appear. The later phase in the dialectic is always 
the 44 truth of " the earlier. The true self is therefore the self 
as universal, whether in will or in thought. 

529. In objective spirit human freedom objectifies itself in 
the external world. To enable it to do this there must be an 
external world to provide it with the material upon which it 
is to work, and which it is to mould into its own forms. The 
existence of such an outward material has already been de- 
duced in the sphere of subjective spirit. As soul (anthro- 
pology) the spirit had private and personal needs, physical 
qualities and conditions, and these of course still subsist. As 
consciousness (phenomenology) it developed out of itself a 
definite external object. As mind (psychology) it had its own 
content which, though internal, was yet external to it. All 
these forms of externality constitute the material which the 
will now works up into a world of objective intelligence, and 
in which it embodies itself. 

530. Objective spirit is regarded by Hegel as the sphere of 
44 right " or 44 law." Right or law is the objective universality 
of the will in general. The term therefore includes legal right, 
moral right, and state right. 

Objective spirit develops itself through the three phases of 
(1) abstract right, (2) morality, (3) social ethics. 



531. The will, conceived in the first instance as merely 
implicit, as " in itself,* 1 as not yet having gone forth into 
externality, is simply the abstract ego, the 1=1. This is a 
pure self-identity ; it refers to nothing outside itself, but is 
simple self-reference. As such it excludes from itself all other- 
ness. It refers to and returns only upon itself. As excluding 
all others, it is a self-enclosed unit, a u one." As a 11 one," 
it is an individual, a single self. But because in referring 
itself to itself, it thereby distinguishes itself from itself (208), 
it therefore has itself for its object. It is ^//-consciousness. 
It is not merely I. It is I = I. It is not merely consciousness 
or a bare ego. But, in addition to this, it knows itself as ego. 
As a single individual which is conscious, not merely of the 
external world, but of itself as an ego, it is a person. 

Not every consciousness is a person. That animals, though 
conscious, are not persons, goes without saying. And in 
Roman Law slaves were not regarded as persons but as 
things. A person, as such, has rights, whereas a thing has no 
rights. The Roman slave had no rights, and the animal may 
also be regarded as having no rights. 1 So far all this is mere 
assertion. It is to be deduced, however, in the following way. 

532. The self-conscious 1=1 is a self-enclosed unit. It 
refers only to itself, and is therefore infinite. As infinite it is 
an absolute end, and cannot be used as a means. Hence one 
person cannot treat another person merely as a means to his 

1 It might be said that the animal has the right to be kindly treated. 
It is doubtful, however, whether this can be regarded as a right in the 
animal, although it is no doubt the duty of man to treat animals well. 



own ends, but is bound to treat that other person as, equally 
with himself, an end. This gives me, as a person, my rights, 
and also my duties to other persons. The general law of 
right therefore is : "Be a person and respect others as 
persons." 1 

Thus what constitutes a person and gives him rights is not 
mere consciousness, but self-consciousness. For consciousness 
as such is limited by its object, and is therefore finite. But 
the object which limits self -consciousness is only itself, and to 
be self-limited, or self-determined, is to be infinite. And it is 
on the infinitude of the self that its personality and rights are 
founded. And it is for this reason that 11 things M have no 
rights as against persons, and are therefore subject to the wills 
of persons. Persons as such have an absolute right over things. 

533. The sphere of abstract right is the sphere of those rights 
and duties which accrue to human beings, considered ab- 
stractly, i.e. simply as persons, and not yet as citizens of states. 
Apart altogether from my rights as a citizen, I as a human 
being, as a person, have rights. It is these that are here 
considered. It may be objected that the institutions which 
Hegel deduces under this head, namely property, contract, and 
punishment of wrong, all imply a settled social state, and could 
not exist without such a state. This is true, but irrevelant. 
It is equally true that sensation cannot exist without thought. 
Yet sensation was deduced very early in the sphere of sub- 
jective spirit, and long before thought made its appearance. 
Hegel's method is to deduce first the abstraction and after- 
wards the concrete state in which alone the earlier abstraction 
finds its true being. It may be true that property, contract, 
punishment, can only exist in a definite and intelligible way 
in an organized society. But this does not alter the fact that 
these rights are based, not upon the state, but upon the single 
person. The right to possess property is inherent in the person 
as such, and exists by virtue of his mere personality. The 
fact that he cannot in practice effectively exercise this right 
until the state is developed makes no difference to this truth. 2 
1 Phil, of Right, § 36. 

- In the Phenomenology of Mind the " person " is also deduced. But 
person there seems to have a different signification from person as treated 



Abstract right develops itself through three phases : (1) pro- 
perty, (2) contract, (3) wrong. 


534. The subjective will is confronted with an external 
world (529). Its task, as we have already seen, is to embody 
itself in this external world, to mould this material into the 
likeness of itself. The will, however, is now a person, and the 
external object is, correspondingly, a thing. The person 
has a right over the thing (532). This is the institution of 

A person is an absolute end, who cannot be used as a means. 
But the thing, just because it is not a person, is not an end, 
but may be appropriated by the person as a means to his own 
satisfaction. This is the rational basis of property. 11 Every 
man has the right to turn his will upon a thing or make the 
thing an object of his will, that is to say, to set aside the mere 
thing and recreate it as his own . . . Only the will is un- 
limited and absolute, while others things in contrast with the 
will are merely relative. To appropriate is at bottom only 
to manifest the majesty of my will towards things, by demon- 
strating that they are not self-complete and have no purpose 
of their own." 1 

535. It is not merely property, but private property, which 
is here shown to be a necessity of reason. For the right of 
property springs from and inheres in the single individual 
person. Hegel is therefore opposed to schemes for the aboli- 
tion of private property. But it is worth remarking that his 
teaching is not really inconsistent with modern socialistic 
ideas. The true essence of socialism, if it understands itself, 

here in the Encyclopaedia and the Philosophy of Right. In the Phenomen- 
ology the person is deduced after the state and civil society, and means 
the person as legally invested with rights by positive law. (Phen. ii. pp. 

1 Phil, of Right, § 44, Addition. 



is not an absolute objection to private property as such, but 
to the inequitable distribution of private property. No scheme 
of communism can ever really get rid of the necessity of 
private property. For even if wealth become nominally the 
property of the state, it must at last be divided among individ- 
uals, appropriated and consumed by them. Food can only 
be eaten by individuals, whatever the form of Government, and 
in eating it they make it their absolute private property. 
Even a public park can only be enjoyed by individuals, and 
the action of the state in nationalizing it does not really 
abolish private property in it. It merely distributes it among 
all the individuals instead of allowing this or that person to 
exclude others from their share. The necessity of private 
property in this sense of the appropriation of things by indi- 
vidual persons is all that really follows from Hegel's deduction, 
though he may have imagined that he deduced more than this. 
He remarks that, if exceptions to the rule of private property 
are to be made, the state alone can be suffered to make them. 1 

536. The question of the alleged " equality of all men n 
also falls to be considered here, for it is sometimes interpreted 
to mean that property should be equally divided among all 
men. It is true that all men, as being persons, as absolute 
ends, are equal. And it is just for this reason that one person 
cannot be subordinated as a means to another. And since 
every man is a person it may be deduced from this that every 
man has the right to own property. But the question of the 
amount of property that each may own cannot be decided on 
this basis. For each man is, it must be remembered, much 
more than a mere person. He has in addition certain definite 
capacities, abilities, character, and so forth. Individuals 
differ in these respects, and there will be corresponding 
differences in the amount of property which each may own. 
Individuals are all the same, i.e. equal, inasmuch as each is 
an 1 = 1, a person. In other respects they are different, i.e. 

537. Property involves three different species of right on 
the part of the will, namely (a) the act of possession, (b) the 

1 Phil, of Right, § 46, Addition. 



use of the object, (c) the right of relinquishment. These may 
be briefly discussed. 

(a) If my will is to embody itself in an outward object, it is 
not enough that I merely inwardly and subjectively will the 
object to be 11 mine." Such a mere intention remains sub- 
jective, and the task of will here is to objectify itself. There 
must be, therefore, a positive act of possession. Such an act 
may be performed either by simple bodily grasp, or by work- 
ing upon the object and fashioning it into the shape which I 
will it to have, or by merely designating or marking the object. 
The act of possession further serves to signify to other persons 
that the object is mine, and not theirs, that I have set my will 
in it and that it is thus already appropriated. For since the 
right of property is a right which inheres in the single self, it 
equally involves the right to exclude other selves. And it 
also involves their duty to respect my property. For my 
property is now an objectification of my will, and to lack 
respect for it is to lack respect for me as a person. 

(b) The right to use property follows from the conception 
of it as a mere thing which has no rights against the owner 
as a person. It is, therefore, rightly treated as a means, i.e. 

(c) Since a person, as such, has the absolute right to set his 
will upon an object, and so make it his own, he has equally 
the right to withdraw his will from it. He has the right, 
therefore, to relinquish his property. 

538. Since property is only property by virtue of an 
exercise of the will, if the will ceases to be exercised towards 
the object it ipso facto becomes ownerless. This is the 
rational basis of the law of prescription. Thus prescription is 
deducible from the Notion, and is to be regarded as a necessity 
of reason, and not as a mere social expedient. 

539. My life may be regarded as my property. But the 
right of relinquishment does not apply to life, i.e. suicide is 
not justifiable. For all rights of property are based upon the 
right and necessity of the will to objectify and realize itself. 
The right of relinquishment exists because it is a manifesta- 
tion of will in the world. Suicide, however, is so far from 


realizing and manifesting my will that it negates and abolishes 
it. And therefore no right of suicide exists. 


540. Contract is conceived by Hegel as transfer of property. 
And no doubt all contract is, at bottom, essentially of that 
nature. For property, in Hegel's terminology, includes not 
only material things, but labour, services, etc. I have the 
right of property over my labour. And therefore even a 
contract of personal service is an exchange of property. 

541. The transition from property to contract is based 
upon the right of relinquishment. Two persons owning 
property have each the right to relinquish his property in 
favour of the other. This is contract. 

542. It might be objected to this that it only proves that 
the person can transfer his property, not that he must, and 
that what the dialectic has to show is not the arbitrary possi- 
bility of contract, but its absolute necessity. The objection 
is not well founded. We are here in the sphere of rights. 
What the dialectic has to show is that the person necessarily 
has the right of contract, not that the person is compelled to 
exercise it. And this has been shown. The deduction is a 
genuine one. It has been proved that the notion {Begriff) of 
person necessarily involves the notion of his right to property. 
This necessarily involves his right to relinquishment, which 
in turn involves contract. What has been proved is that the 
notion of property contains the notion of contract implicit in 
it, and that the latter is thus produced out of the former. 
This is the nature of all deduction. 

543. Just as a subjective intention is not a sufficient mani- 
festation of the will in the sphere of property, but requires to 
be objectified by the act of possession, so here in contract an 
outward act is also necessary in addition to the internal inten- 
tions of the parties. This outward act is performance. 



544. Marriage, it will be seen, is deduced, not here, but in 
the third division of the objective spirit, i.e. social ethics. 
From this it follows, and Hegel specifically remarks, 1 that the 
view of marriage as simply a civil contract (popular with all 
who wish to weaken the marriage tie), is false and inadequate. 
Of this, of course, no proof can be given at this stage, and the 
remark is merely to be regarded as an anticipation. Its proof 
can only consist in the deduction of marriage in its proper 

545. For the same reason the view of the state as a " social 
contract " is to be regarded as false. 2 The state also appears 
later on in the sphere of social ethics. " Contract arises out 
of the spontaneous choice of the persons. Marriage, indeed, 
has that point in common with contract, but with the state 
it is different. An individual cannot enter or leave the social 
condition at his option, since everyone is by his very nature a 
citizen of a state ; if there is no state, reason claims that one 
should be founded." 3 


546. Right is the objectification of the universal will. By 
universal will here is not meant the common will of all, or of 
a majority, or anything of that kind. 4 It may even be that 
the will of a single individual alone embodies the universal 
will, while all others are opposed to it. Not a mere extrinsic 

1 Phil, of Right, § 75, note. 

2 This, of course, does not mean merely that there never was historically 
such an event as the conclusion of a social contract. That goes without 
saying. What is here regarded as false is the view that, whatever its 
historical origin, the state is, in its essential nature, a contract. No doubt 
it may sometimes be useful and justifiable to use the category of contract 
in reference to the state (cf. Burke's famous dictum), just as it may suit us 
to say that God is being, or substance, instead of Absolute Idea. But 
God is much more than being, or substance, and the state is much more 
than a contract. Such views are not wholly false, but are utterly in- 
adequate and fall short of the complete truth. 

s Phil, of Right, § 75, note. 

4 " Rousseau . . . conceives the will only in the limited form of the indi- 
vidual will, . . . and regards the universal will not as the absolutely reason- 
able will, but only as the common will." (Phil, of Right, § 258, note.) 


universality of allness, but the intrinsic universality of the 
will, the will which wills the intrinsically universal, i.e. the 
rational will, is the source of right. The rational will is the 
universal will. Now contract brings to light the full pos- 
sibility of voluntary acts of individuals in the disposal, exchange 
and acquirement of property. The individual is intrinsically 
universal. He is the 1 = 1. But in addition to this he is, as 
already deduced, a being of impulses, private interests, par- 
ticular appetities, and the like. Hence arises the possibility 
that the voluntary acts, of which we now see that he is capable, 
may be dictated by these private ends, and may be opposed 
to the universal will, or to the law of right. This is wrong. 

547. It is not, of course, necessarily the case that a man, in 
following his private interests, does wrong. For the content 
of what he, from private interest, wills, may be in accordance 
with the universal will ; as happens, for example, when a man 
is honest merely because honesty is good policy. But if a 
man, pursuing his private interests, does an act which is not 
in accord with the universal will, then his act is a wrong. 

548. There are three degrees or species of wrong. We are 
not, of course, here concerned with wrong in the sense of 
moral evil. Morality has not yet been deduced. The right 
which we have been considering is not moral right, but legal 
right, e.g. the rights of property and contract. So, too, the 
wrong here deduced is legal wrong, breach of legal right. The 
first degree of wrong is (1) unpremeditated wrong. This forms 
the subject-matter of civil actions. Such wrong arises because 
several individuals may claim mutually inconsistent rights of 
property or contract. Hence arise collisions. The essential 
point of the wrong here is that the doer of it believes himself 
to be acting under the law of right. He does not, as the 
criminal does, repudiate right altogether. On the contrary he 
affirms it, and appeals to it. It is only the particular right of 
the other party which he negates. And his very act is, or is 
intended to be, an affirmation of right in general. 

(2) The second degree of wrong is fraud. Here the indi- 
vidual purports to act under the law of right, but in fact con- 
sciously acts against it. The other party is imposed upon 



and made to believe that he gets his rights. But the supposed 
right which is done is a mere appearance, an unreality. 

(3) The highest degree of wrong is crime. Here the indi- 
vidual does not admit the law of right at all. Nor does he 
even purport to act under it. He openly negates it. And 
what he negates is not the particular right of the individual, 
but the universal law of right as such. 

549. In wrong, right is outraged and negated. Right, 
however, is the positive existence, wrong a mere negation and 
unreality. Right, therefore, must restore itself by negating 
this negation. In civil wrong it does so by compensation, 
restoration, or other means. The universal negation of right, 
however, which constitutes crime, is negated by punishment. 
In punishment right restores itself and is strengthened and 

Crime is an " untrue," because a self-contradictory, 
existence. It, of course, exists. But it is an unreality, a 
mere appearance, a nullity. It is self-contradictory because 
it is an act which contradicts the essential notion of the will 
and the true conception of human action. The essential 
notion of the will is its universality, and it is precisely this 
which the crime negatives. It is, therefore, an act of the 
will which contradicts the will, and is accordingly not any- 
thing positive, but a meaningless act which is a mere nullity. 
Its essential nullity is exposed when the day of punishment 

550. Punishment is, therefore, an absolute act of justice. 
To regard it merely as a deterrent, or even as intended 
essentially to reform the criminal, is to take a shallow view of 
it, for it is to regard it as a mere means to a further end. 
Justice is, however, an absolute end in itself. No doubt it is 
a good thing if punishment deters people from committing 
crimes, or if it helps to reform the criminal, and no one can 
be blamed for taking account of these excellent ends. But to 
place the essential nature and the justification of punishment 
in these ends is wrong. Apart from all such utilitarian pur- 
poses which punishment may incidentally serve, it is the 
absolute law of right that pain and punishment must follow 


upon crime. It is not a human contrivance for securing 
property or life. It is rather a law of the universe, a necessity 
of reason, which springs from the central heart of things. 

551. Equally objectionable is the theory which regards 
punishment as a safety-valve for feelings of private revenge, 
or as regulating and legitimatizing revenge. Private revenge 
may, as far as its content goes, execute justice on the criminal. 
But true justice is an act of the universal will, that is to say, 
an act of right. Revenge, on the other hand, springs from 
the particular motives of the particular will. It is, therefore, 
a new wrong. Justice abolishes the crime and restores right. 
But revenge merely adds a second wrong to the first. This 
new wrong again calls forth vengeance, and so we have an 
infinite progress — the vendetta. But justice, because it is 
not a new wrong, but a restoration of right, does not call forth 
a new act of wrong ; it concludes the matter. 

552. An animal may be beaten or otherwise made to suffer 
in order to deter it from objectionable actions, as when men, 
in training their pet dogs, are compelled to beat them. 
This, however, is not intended as an act of justice, but is a 
mere deterrent. And the deterrent theory of punishment, in 
fact, puts men on the same level as the animal. The difference, 
however, is this. The criminal is a rational being, whose 
essence is universality ; the animal is not. It is, therefore, 
the inherent right of the criminal to be treated as a rational 
and universal being. Hence the crime cannot be regarded as 
a mere objectionable act, as a dog's delinquencies may, but 
must be viewed as an affirmation of a law which the criminal 
wills to be universal. Violence, therefore, must be punished 
by violence. For the criminal has, by his own act, asserted 
the law of violence. It is his right as a rational being that his 
act should be taken as importing a universal, as erecting 
violence into a law. It is the criminal, therefore, who punishes 
himself. It is his own will. He has asserted violence as his 
law, and the application of this law to himself is justice. In 
the beating of the animal, on the other hand, there is no 
element of right or justice. It is a mere act of expediency. 
The deterrent theory of justice treats man as an irrational 



being and forgets his essential dignity and grandeur, in which 
the criminal, too, shares, so that punishment is his inalienable 
right. And in this connection Hegel remarks that 11 the 
desire of Beccaria that men should consent to their own 
punishment is reasonable, but the criminal has already yielded 
consent through his own act." 1 He has yielded consent not, 
of course, for the trivial reason that he knows when he acts 
what justice ordains and voluntarily takes the risk, but because 
his act is in its very nature an appeal to violence, an assertion 
that violence is the law, that violence is right. It is by this 
assertion that he has already yielded consent to the application 
of force to himself. 

553. It was Beccaria, too, who argued that capital punish- 
ment is unjustifiable because the social contract cannot be 
supposed to contain the individual's consent to his own death. 
Hegel replies that that state is not a contract, nor is the pro- 
tection and security of the individual its unconditional object. 
On the contrary the state is a higher end than the individual, 
and the life of the individual may on occasion be rightly sacri- 
ficed for the ends of the state. Hegel, therefore, supports 
capital punishment. But he is in sympathy with its further 
restriction. He thinks that Beccaria's attack on capital 
punishment did good, because it induced moderation, enabled 
men to see what crimes deserved death and what did not, and 
made the death-penalty far less frequent, as should be the 
case with the extreme penalty of the law. 

554. The vindication and restoration of right, through 
punishment, closes the sphere of abstract right. We next 
pass to morality. Before doing so, however, it will be fitting 
to point out how far Hegel has wandered, in the present 
section, from the strictest interpretation of the dialectic 
method. We have passed through the triad, (1) property, 
(2) contract, (3) wrong. It is quite impossible to see any sense 
in which contract can be said to be the opposite of property. 
And it is equally impossible to regard wrong as the unity of 
property and contract. It is true that in the Encyclopaedia 
what appears to be deduced is not wrong itself, but the con- 

1 Phil, of Right, § 100, Addition. 


flict between right and wrong. For which reason the section 1 
there is headed 11 Right versus wrong," whereas the corre- 
sponding section in the Philosophy of Right is simply headed 
" Wrong." 2 But this does not appear to help the matter at 
all. It is just as difficult to view the conflict as the unity of 
property and contract as it is to regard wrong itself in that 

1 Phil, of Mind, § 496. 

*PhiL of Right, §82. 



555. Abstract right is the outward objectification of freedom. 
Freedom embodies itself in a thing — property. We are not, 
in the sphere of abstract right, concerned at all with the 
inward state of the will, or the subjective consciousness of the 
individual. We do not, for example, consider questions of 
motive, purpose, intention. Morality, however, is not an 
outward thing, like property. It essentially concerns the 
state of the soul. It is an affair of the individual's inward 
conscience. Hegel uses the word morality in a restricted 
sense peculiar to himself, the import of which will be explained 
shortly. But for the moment the essential point to grasp is 
that the chief difference between abstract right and morality 
is that the former has its being and embodiment in the 
external world, while the latter is an affair of the internal 

556. The transition from abstract right to morality is 
brought about through the consideration of crime and punish- 
ment. Wrong, and in particular, crime, reveals for the first 
time the fact that a distinction and opposition has arisen 
between the particular will of the individual and the universal 
will. In crime the individual will pits itself against the 
universal will. But the notion of the will is to be universal. 
Its essential nature, its true self, is its universality. There- 
fore the individual will, in opposing itself in crime to the 
universal will, is putting itself in opposition to its own true 
self. Such a will does not coincide with the notion of will. There 
is a breach, a disharmony, between the will as it is and the 



will as it ought to be. 1 This " ought " is in general the element 
of obligation in morality, and it attaches to the inward being 
of the subject. It is he who ought to be different from what 
he is. So that here already we have the inwardness which 
is the characteristic of morality as distinguished from abstract 
right. But this is not yet the complete deduction of morality. 
We have deduced the existence of a discord between the will 
and its notion. This discord, however, is a mere negation. 
The particular will, in opposing itself to the universal will, 
negates the latter, and in so doing negates right. Punishment, 
however, is the negation of this negation. It is this negation 
of the negation which gives us the positive idea of morality. 
For the breach between the will and its notion is the negation ; 
it is the negating of the universal will, or right, by the indi- 
vidual will. The negation of the negation is, therefore, the 
negation of this breach, i.e. it is the idea of the will of the 
individual in harmony with the notion of the will. And for 
the individual will to be thus in accord with its notion, to be 
what it ought to be, is morality. 

557. This process is described by Hegel as a turning back 
of the will into itself. In abstract right the will passed out of 

1 This passage will not be intelligible unless the reader has clearly grasped 
the meaning of the word notion (Begriff) as used by Hegel. The fact that 
Hegel uses this word with three different applications is apt to be most 
confusing to the beginner. Firstly, there is the Notion, the category of 
pure Logic which supersedes essence, and has been fully treated in its 
place. Secondly, any of the categories of the Logic are referred to as 
' notions.' Being, becoming, appearance, are notions. These are pure 
thoughts which differ from Plato's Ideas only because they are non- 
sensuous, universal and necessary, and because they are not abstract 
universals, but self-generating universals which give birth to their own 
differentiae and species. Thirdly, Hegel speaks of the notions ot particular 
things, the notions of man, of freedom, of the plant, the animal, or, as here, 
the notion of the will. This kind of notion differs from the second kind 
of notion, viz. pure categories, only in this that they are thoughts, uni- 
versals, which do not apply, as the categories do, to everything in the 
universe, but only to specific things, man, animal, will, and so on. The 
notions of these things are their concepts, the general ideas of them, just 
like Plato's Idea of the man, Idea of the plant, etc. But they differ from 
Plato's Ideas in the following respects. Plato's Ideas are reached by 
mere empirical induction, and hence do not possess necessity. Hegel's 
notions are deduced, and are therefore necessary concepts. Plato's Ideas 
are abstract, and therefore sterile and motionless. Hegel's notions generate 
their opposites, and so their differentiae and species, out of themselves. 
But, like Plato's Ideas, the notions are definitions and give the essential 
nature of the thing, what the thing ought to be. Hence here we find that 
the notion of the will is what the will ought to be. 



itself into externality ; it embodied itself in external things, 
which became property. Property is freedom, or the will, 
become outward. In morality the will returns into its own 
subjectivity. It is no longer the thing which is to embody 
my will. It is now /, the inward ego, which is to embody its 
own freedom in itself, in its inward state, as a moral I. 

558. Because the term morality, as used by Hegel, applies 
exclusively to the inward state of the will, it is much more 
restricted in its scope here than it is in popular parlance. 
Morality is, for Hegel, something purely subjective. It there- 
fore excludes all positive duties connected with the family, 
society and the state, all of which are objective institutions. 
Even what is especially regarded in popular speech as 
morality, namely chastity, does not fall, for Hegel, under the 
head of morality at all. For sexual relations are an affair 
which concerns the family. The family, society, and the state 
are not yet in existence. They have not been deduced. They 
come later under the head of social ethics. Hegel cannot 
be criticized adversely on this account. He does not, as we 
shall see, disparage the duties of the individual in the family 
and the state by not including them under the term morality. 
Very much the contrary. It is a mere matter of terminology. 
He chooses to use the word morality in a sense more restricted 
than its common use. So long as we understand the sense in 
which he uses the term, no harm is done. 

559. Morality, like abstract right, is one-sided. Abstract 
right is purely objective, centred in an outward thing, and 
the inward state of the subject, his motives and aims, are 
indifferent to it. Morality is the other one-sidedness. It is 
purely subjective. It never gets itself actualized in the world 
in the form of objective institutions, or, when it does so, it has 
ceased to be morality and has passed into social ethics. Social 
ethics is the concrete unity of subjective and objective in the 
sphere of objective spirit. And it may even be said in a 
sense that morality itself does not come to exist until it has 
passed beyond itself into social ethics. For if morality be 
defined as the concord of the existent will with its notion, 
i.e. with the universal will, then we find that this concord is 


not actually brought about till we reach the stage of social 
ethics. Only then is the will completely coincident with its 
notion. The development in the present sphere, that of 
morality, is the process of reaching that coincidence, of over- 
coming the breach which has arisen between the will and its 
notion. And it is for this reason that morality is the sphere 
of what ought to be but is not 

560. Morality is the return of the will upon itself, its retire- 
ment from the outward world of things into its own self- 
centred inwardness. For this reason the will is here infinite 
and self-determined. And the same result arises from the 
consideration that in morality we have the negation of the 
negation (556). Negation is in general the sphere of finitude. 
Negation of negation is the infinitude which has absorbed its 
opposite into itself (204). In morality, therefore, the will, as 
self-determined, is a law unto itself. In abstract right it was 
determined by the outward thing, property. It had the out- 
ward thing as its object. Now, however, the will, which has 
returned upon itself, has itself for its object. And the fact 
that in morality the will is a law unto itself gives us in general 
the right of the subject Legal or abstract right gave rise to 
commands and prohibitions which were imposed upon the 
will from an external source, the thing. The position of the 
will in morality is that it recognizes no mere external 
authority as binding upon it, but only the dictates of its own 
reason (conscience). I, as a rational being, cannot be sub- 
jected to the imposition of commands which I do not myself 
recognize as right and reasonable. Only what is approved by 
my own conscience can be a law for me. This is the right of 
the subject. It is the source of the idea of democracy and 
also of that " right of private judgment " which is often stated 
to be the guiding principle of Protestantism. 

As morality is a one-sided abstraction which has to be 
corrected by social ethics, so the right of the subject is itself 
one-sided, a half-truth, if taken in abstraction from the equally 
important right of the object. This latter makes its appearance 
in social ethics, where the objective institutions of the family, 
society, and the state, appear as having rights of control over 



the individual subject. Man, as rational and infinite, must 
be self-determined, and can tolerate no determination from 
an external source. The commands of the family and the 
state are indeed external to the individual. They are the side 
of objectivity in the ethical sphere. But it will appear in due 
course that this objectivity is itself nothing but a projection 
of subjectivity out of itself, that the object is but the subject 
which has put itself forth into objectivity, so that the subject, 
in being governed by this objectivity is governed only by 
himself. I, in obeying the rightful commands of the state, 
am obeying only my true self, i.e. myself as universal. But 
if this half-truth, the right of the subject, is taken in separa- 
tion from the right of the object, and treated as if it were the 
whole and final truth, then it becomes in principle bad. The 
individual subject then claims that he alone is the absolute 
law-giver to himself, that he is subject to no control whatever, 
and is at liberty to act as he pleases, to set up his own whims, 
fancies, or capricious self-will, as his sole authority. In the 
political sphere this is the root-principle of anarchism, which 
puts exclusive emphasis on the right of the subject and denies 
any function to the state. 

561. Morality passes through three stages, (1) purpose, 
(2) intention and well-being, (3) goodness and wickedness. 
It is only in the last that morality can properly be said to 
have come into existence. The first two are mere factors of 
the third. 


562. The will is essentially the I as acting, and is thus dis- 
tinguished from cognition, which is the I as thinking. And 
because morality is an affair of the will, it is an affair of action. 
The will must put itself forth in action. Now the will can 
only act upon external objects in the external world, and its 
action consists in bringing about change in this external 
material. But because no external object is isolated, but 



every object is linked to all other objects by causation and 
necessity, my action necessarily sets on foot a chain of con- 
sequences. And because this external world is the sphere of 
contingency and unreason, I cannot foresee all the consequences 
of my act. In acting I, so to speak, put forth part of myself 
into the infinite stream of outward events, which may carry 
it away into remote and strange regions. But, in the sphere 
of morality, I, as self-determined, admit nothing as binding 
upon me w r hich does not issue from myself. Only what the 
will willed binds the will. For it to be bound by what it has 
not willed would be to be determined by what is not itself. 
I, therefore, cannot impute to myself all the unforeseen con- 
sequences of my act. To assume responsibility for an event 
is to admit it as binding upon me, and I cannot admit this as 
regards any event which was not in my consciousness when I 
acted, and which, therefore, did not issue forth out of me 
myself. To do so would be an infringement of my self- 
determination, an infringement of the right of the subject. 
Thus the right of the subject, which is the foundation of 
morality (as distinguished from social ethics), is that the 
subject should be held responsible only for what is in his 



563. The words purpose and intention are commonly used 
as synonymous. Hegel, however, decides to use the latter in a 
special sense. 

The foundation of the subject's right to repudiate those 
consequences of his act which he could not foresee, consists 
in the fact that those consequences are the result, not of his 
will, but of external forces which have carried away the act 
of his will into unexpected trains of events. These unforeseen 
consequences are, as far as the subject is concerned, accidental, 
capricious, contingent. They may be anything. My eating 
an oyster might conceivably exercise an influence in the 



destruction of an empire. Any ingenious person could 
invent the intermediate links in the chain of events. It is 
because they are accidental^ and not necessary^ that I am not 
responsible for unforeseen consequences. But this involves 
the result that I am responsible for the necessary consequences 
of my act, and must be held to have intended them, even if, 
through my folly or ignorance, they were not foreseen by me, 
and not in my purpose. This is true in all cases save those of 
lunatics, children, etc., who, though potentially rational 
beings, are not actually so, and cannot be treated as such. 
The necessary consequences of an act are to be regarded as 
part of the act itself. For they are my act, since I am re- 
sponsible for them. They constitute indeed the universal 
and essential inner nature of the act. If I hold a pistol to a 
man's head and pull the trigger, the necessary consequence 
— apart from unforeseen counteracting causes — is that the 
man will be killed. The mere pulling of the trigger, which 
is all / do, is in itself a trifle. The essential nature of my act, 
however, is that it is murder, and this lies, not in the act 
itself, but in the consequence. I ought to know the necessary 
consequences of my acts. I ought to know their essential 
character. And this essential nature of the act, when willed 
by me, is what Hegel calls my intention. Purpose com- 
prises all the foreseen consequences of the act. Intention 
comprises, of the foreseen consequences, only those that are 
necessarily bound up with the act and constitute its special 

564. The individual, besides being universal, is also this 
particular individual, and, as such, has his particular desires, 
aims, needs, etc. It is his right to satisfy these by his action, 
so long as their content is not contrary to the universal will. 
Hence, in addition to purpose and intention, every act has its 
particular end. If I shoot a man through the head, my 
purpose includes all the consequences of the act that are 
foreseen and accepted by the will. The intention is the 
universal character of the act, the necessary consequence, 
namely, the death of the man, murder. But I do not commit 
murder for the sake of murder. I do it for some particular 


end which appears to have value for me as an individual sub- 
ject, e.g. to get rid of a rival in love. My end may be either 
good or evil. But the distinction between good and evil is 
irrelevant for the moment. It does not make its appearance 
till the next section. 

These subjective ends may be co-ordinated, or one end may 
be subordinated to another and made a means towards that 
other. When comprehended in a single general aim they 
constitute well-being. Well-being is the same as happiness, 
which has already been deduced under the head of practical 
mind (517), except that well-being, appearing, as it does, in 
the moral sphere, has a moral element, whereas happiness 
had none. The subject has a right to seek his well-being, and 
this right is the moral aspect of it. The kind of view which 
disparages the great deeds and productions of great men, and 
seeks always to attribute them to petty and selfish motives, 
vanity, and the like, is essentially shallow and worthless. 
For in the first place, the subjective satisfaction of the indi- 
vidual in his work, the gratification of his needs and aims, the 
fulfilment of his well-being, are his right, and are therefore 
perfectly legitimate. And, in the second place, these par- 
ticular ends do not alter the fact that in performing a great 
work the individual is also seeking a universal end. While 
quite admitting that the poet may not be without thought 
for his personal fame, or even for money, it is psychologically 
false to suppose that this is his only motive, and that his poem 
is not for him an absolute end in itself, an end universal in 
character and having absolute value. 

565. The view that morality must carry on a continual 
warfare against the satisfaction of oneself, and that one 
ought 11 to do with aversion what duty requires 11 1 arises 
from the same abstract way of regarding the matter. 

1 A line of Schiller's intended to be a parody on the Kantian view that 
a good act loses its moral value if done from inclination instead of from 





566. We have now developed the factors of the will in 
moral action, viz. purpose, intention, and well-being. But 
morality itself is still lacking. The point at which we began, 
in this chapter, was the contradiction, which made its appear- 
ance in crime, between the will and its notion, between the 
individual will and the universal will. We have now seen 
that the individual must act, and his act must have purpose, 
intention and end. If we combine these considerations we 
get the result that the ends, aims, and intentions of the 
individual will must coincide with the ends of the universal 
will. This is morality. The coincidence of the will with its 
notion is the good. The will which coincides with the notion 
of will, i.e. its universality, is in a state of goodness. The 
will which opposes itself to the universal will is in a state of 
wickedness. It sets up its mere caprices, whims, self-will 
as the law in opposition to reason and the universal. These 
caprices and whims are, in their essence, particular, and 
possess no universality. They are purely and solely my ends, 
my caprices, my will. They, therefore, have no validity as 
laws. What is universal in my will is not these particular 
ends, but the element of reason. Reason, as universal, is 
capable of being made a law. My will, as rational, is universal, 
is identical with the universal will. My will, as capricious 
and irrational, is a private affair of my own. Hence the will 
that wills rationally, that wills reason to be done in the world, 
is the good will. In fact the expression " the universal will M 
means nothing more nor less than the reasonable will. So 
far as my will is reasonable it is not merely my will but is 
universal ; for reason is the universal ; it is common to all 
rational beings, whereas my self-will and my whims are 
merely my own. Hence when I will reasonably my will 
coincides with the universal will ; it coincides with its notion, 
and is, therefore, good. When it wills merely private ends, 
whkh are unreasonable, it is evil. As we have already seen, 


the mere fact of willing my private ends is not in itself evil. 
For those ends may be essentially reasonable and therefore 
universal, notwithstanding that I seek them for my personal 
well-being. It is only when my ends are solely my ends, when 
they are in their nature intrinsically opposed to the universal, 
that I do evil. 

567. Morality, therefore, consists in willing and doing 
the universal, the rational. Good action is rational action. 
But this, so far, gives us a merely empty and abstract formula. 
It provides no answer to the question, what acts, what ends, 
are reasonable and universal. The position at which we have 
arrived is, in fact, the same as the Kantian position. For 
Kant too what was essential to moral action was its univer- 
sality. That an action must be capable of being universalized 
into a law was, for him, the test of its being moral. But this 
means, as we saw, merely that logical consistency in action 
is the test of goodness. Logical consistency, observance of 
the laws of identity and contraction, was the highest idea 
Kant could form of reason. For his philosophy was still 
governed by the understanding, and what he called reason 
was the mere identity and absence of contradiction which 
are the laws of the understanding. Hence to act without 
contradiction was for him to act rationally, and so, to act 
morally. Up to the present, therefore, the Hegelian maxim 
of morality is the same as the Kantian : act rationally, act 
universally. But Kant never got beyond this. Out of mere 
consistency nothing new can ever come. Hence it was 
impossible for him ever to deduce from his principles any 
positive duties, or to say what acts are rational and moral. 

568. The Hegelian principle of reason is not mere con- 
sistency, but is the self- differentiating universal. Hence for 
Hegel it is possible to deduce positive duties from the maxim, 
11 act rationally. 1 ' But up to the present this has not been 
done. We are still left with an empty command to act the 
universal. The positive duties which flow from this do not 
make their appearance in the sphere of morality at all. They 
only appear under the head of social ethics. 

We must not expect then, in the present chapter, to get any 



deduction of positive duties. We must not expect to get 
beyond the general maxim, act universally and rationally. 
What acts are considered universal and rational, and why 
they are so, will be considered in the sphere of social ethics. 

569. Meanwhile, one other remark is here to be made. The 
position of morality, as distinguished from social ethics, is the 
position of the right of the subject. The subject here claims 
to be absolutely self-determined, to be a law unto himself. 
This means that to answer the question what acts are uni- 
versal, rational, and good, I will appeal only to myself. I 
will search within my own breast for the answer. Since I am 
a rational being, I claim that I can know with absolute 
certitude what is rational, universal and good, from the inner 
resources of my own consciousness alone. This attitude is 
the attitude of conscience, which accordingly makes its 
appearance here in the sphere of morality. 

570. To sum up the present discussion. The good is 
denned as the coincidence of the will with its notion. The 
notion of the will is the will as universal. What alone is 
universal is reason. Therefore goodness consists in rational 
action. When the will wills rationally it is, ipso facto, not 
merely the individual will. It is then in itself the universal 
will. And this identity of the particular will with the uni- 
versal will, i.e. with the notion of the will, constitutes the good. 
Evil or wickedness is the decision of the will to follow its own 
irrational caprices and private ends in opposition to reason, 
i.e. to the universal will. Since the essential nature of the will 
is its universality, the will which wills evil is out of accord with 
its true self, and is a self-contradictory existence. Conscience 
is the claim of the individual, as a rational being, to be self- 
determined, to find within his own reason the universal reason, 
the law of good. 



571. The deduction of social ethics from morality is, as given 
by Hegel, 1 extremely obscure. But the meaning of it, if I 
understand it rightly, is as follows. We have now arrived 
at conscience on the one hand and the good on the other. 
But the good is utterly empty and abstract. It possesses no 
filling. It is merely the empty form of universality. Uni- 
versality in action is its definition. But what particular acts 
possess this universality it is impossible to say. Thus the 
good, in itself, is not any particular concrete act or thing at 
all. It is a mere general idea, an abstraction. It is a uni- 
versality which is equivalent to nothingness, for it has no 
content. Conscience, on the other hand, is just the same 
empty universality. It, likewise, does not know what its 
duties are. It merely knows in general that, if it has any 
duties, it is out of itself that they must be produced, and that 
it alone is the judge of what they are. But what these duties 
are, it, as yet, cannot say. Hence conscience, like the good, 
is void of content, empty, a mere abstraction. And it is not 
merely empty ; it is also an empty universal. For it is the 
ego ; it is the 1 = 1; and the ego is essentially a universality. 
Thus nothing whatever can be said of the good, save that it is 
empty universality, mere vacuity. And nothing whatever 
can be said of conscience, save that it, likewise, is a vacuous 
universal. And as neither of them has any further determina- 
tion, it is impossible to assign any difference between them ; 
for to assign a difference is to state a determination which is 

1 In the Phil, of Mind, § 512, and in the Phil, of Right, § 141. 



possessed by the one and not by the other. What we have, 
therefore, is the absolute identity of conscience and the good. 

Now, in the moral sphere, conscience is the side of subjec- 
tivity, the good is the side of objectivity. That conscience 
is pure subjectivity is obvious. And the good is objective 
because it is the object of the will, because it is what the 
subject is to do, to put forth, by means of action, 
into the objective world. Hence the identity of conscience 
and the good, which we have reached, is the identity 
of the subjective and objective in the moral sphere. This 
identity of moral subjectivity and moral objectivity is the 
Ethical System, consisting of the family, civil society, and the 
state, which is the subject of Social Ethics. The particu- 
larization of the ethical system into family, civil society, 
and the state, has, of course, not yet taken place. They are 
reached by further detailed deductions, and are mentioned 
here merely by way of anticipation. All we have to grasp 
at present is that the idea of the identity of subjective and 
objective here deduced is, in general, the idea of the sphere 
of the ethical system. For the ethical system consists of 
institutions which, as such, are definitely established and 
existent in the outward world, are objective. But at the 
same time, these objective institutions constitute no mere 
alien otherness subsisting in absolute opposition to the subject. 
They are essentially the product of the subject himself, the 
projection of himself, and his reason, into the outward world. 
They are the putting forth of himself into objectivity. They 
are, therefore, subjective as well as objective, and this unity of 
subjective and objective is just what has been deduced. This 
deduction, however, gives us merely the idea of the general 
sphere, not the particular institutions, which are yet to come. 

572. The ethical system, as the synthesis of the triad, is the 
unity of abstract right and morality. Abstract right was 
purely objective, morality purely subjective. The ethical 
system is the unity of the subjective and objective in this 

573. The ethical system is the identity of the will with its 
notion, an identity which was sought but not found in 


morality. There the identity of the particular will with its 
notion, i.e. with the universal will, was merely an obligation, 
something which ought to be, but was not. Here it actually 
is. It is there, positively existent in the world in the form of 
institutions. These institutions are the universal will become 
actual ; they are rationality objectified. Hence these institu- 
tions embody the true self of the individual. For the true 
self of the individual is his universality and rationality. The 
family and the state are, therefore, something higher than 
the individual in so far as he exists in separation from them, 
i.e. in so far as his will deviates from the universal will. The 
essential truth of the individual is the state. It is only the 
untruth of the individual which can be in opposition to the 
state — assuming, that is, that the state is a genuine one, an 
embodiment of freedom, and not a mere embodiment of the 
selfish interests of some particular class or individual, as some- 
times happens in actual history. The state is a higher end 
than the individual, and may, in certain circumstances, rightly 
demand the sacrifice of the individual to its ends. 

574. This view is sometimes quoted as proving that Hegel 
was a reactionary, always ready to suppress the individual in 
favour of the state. If we persist in regarding the interests 
of the individual as necessarily opposed to the interests of the 
state, this will be a correct deduction. But for Hegel the state 
is the true self of the individual. His very individuality only 
finds its perfect expression in the state. For the state is 
simply his true self, i.e. his universality, objectified. The 
interests of the state are, therefore, the true and essential 
interests of the individual, and the sacrifice of the latter to 
the state is only his sacrifice to his own higher self, not to 
some external and alien authority. 

575. For the same reason the duties which are imposed 
upon the individual by his membership of the family, society, 
or the state, are to be regarded, not as limitations of his 
freedom, but, on the contrary, as the embodiment of it. 
Freedom does not consist in being governed by no law, nor 
in the absence of all restraints. It consists in being self- 
determined, governed by one's own law. But the laws of the 



state, the edicts of the family, are precisely the establishment 
in objectivity of the true self of the individual. In obeying 
them he obeys only himself, and finds therein his freedom. 
A duty is a limitation only of the natural will, of the caprices, 
selfish whims, and non-universal impulses of the individual, 
and these constitute the untrue side of his nature. To regard 
marriage, for example, as involving a loss of freedom, 
is a false view. In it, on the contrary, the individual finds his 

576. It was said in the last chapter that the positive duties 
of man, which are lacking in the empty universality of sub- 
jective morality, would make their appearance under the 
head of social ethics. What Hegel actually deduces in the 
present part of his system, however, are not duties as such, 
but institutions. But the relations in which the individual 
finds himself to these institutions are his duties. Thus when 
once the family is deduced, it involves the relations of parents 
and children to each other, and the duties of each follow as a 
matter of course. It is not necessary on each occasion to 
mention that the observance of the due relation of the indi- 
vidual to the institution constitutes such and such a well- 
known duty, or that its habitual fulfilment is such and such a 
particular virtue. The deduction of the institution is ipso 
facto the deduction of the particular duties and virtues con- 
nected with it. 

Social ethics advance through three phases (i) the family, 
(2) civil society, (3) the state. 


577. The unity of moral subjectivity and objectivity at 
which we have arrived is called by Hegel the ethical substance. 
Such a use of the word substance is apt to be puzzling, but need 
not prove a stumbling-block. In the sphere of morality the 
good, or the unity of the will with its notion, was a mere 


unattained ideal. It is now actual. It definitely exists in 
the form of institutions, and is therefore regarded as being 
now substantial. To call it the ethical substance is merely a 
way of expressing this. And in the same sense the various 
institutions, which are now to be deduced, are spoken of as 
the different phases or modes of the ethical substance. 

578. The ethical substance first exists in the phase of 
immediacy. 1 This, of course, is in accordance with the 
general principles of the Hegelian dialectic. Now, that 
rationality, or universality, should exist in a phase of im- 
mediacy, can only mean that reason here exists in the guise 
of feeling. For cognition in the phase of immediacy is feeling 
(498). That the first existence of the ethical substance will 
be an institution follows, of course, from the fact that we are 
now in the sphere of social ethics, and have already deduced 
the idea of institutions in general. It follows indeed from the 
mere fact that ethical substance is ethical substance. For 
that means nothing except that the ethical idea has now 
become substantial, i.e. is embodied in objective institutions. 
Hence the first mode of existence of this substance will be 
(i) an institution, (2) which is based upon feeling. This is the 
family, the feeling upon which it is based being love. 

579. This is the only deduction of the family which Hegel 
gives. 2 It cannot be regarded as satisfactory. For, apart 
from the considerations urged in § 239 regarding this type of 
deduction in general, all that is actually deduced here is the 
idea of an institution based upon feeling. That this feeling 
is love, and that this institution is the family, these further 
determinations of the idea are undeduced, and constitute a 
leap in the dark. A thousand other institutions might be 
conceived which are, equally with the family, based upon 
feeling. A murder society may be an institution based upon 
feeling — the feeling of hatred. 

1 See § 239 above. 

2 Phil, of Right, § 158. In the Encyclopaedia (" Phil, of Mind," § 518) 
there is also a reference to the individual finding his substantial existence 
in his " natural universal " or " kind." This seems to hint of a more 
precise deduction of the idea of family through its connection with genus, 
or kind. But it is too vague to be clearly understood or expounded. 



The rest of the details which Hegel gives here under the 
head of the family seem also to be very loosely deduced, 
although his general views upon marriage certainly follow 
rigorously from his principles. The family involves three 
phases : 

580. (1) Marriage. " Love is, in general, the consciousness 
of the unity of myself with another." 1 In marriage the two 
persons renounce their independent personalities to become 
one person. Indeed the entire family is to be regarded as 
one entity, the members of which, so long as they have not 
yet separated themselves from it, gone forth into the world, 
and by marrying set up new families, are not independent 
persons. It is for this reason that consanguineous marriages 
are unethical. For the essence of marriage is that two 
independent persons give up their independence to each 
other. Where this is not possible, as in the case of members 
of the same family who are not, as regards each other, in- 
dependent persons, the idea of marriage cannot be realized. 

581. Since marriage is a necessary objectification of reason 
and of the universal will — as is proved by its deduction in 
this place — it is, therefore, essentially an ethical bond, an 
absolute end in itself. It is not to be regarded as a mere 
contrivance for securing the pleasure of the individual, or for 
the sake of expediency, or other such ends. Its essential 
nature is the ethical union, and the gratification of sex is 
subordinate. Marriage may involve pleasure. But it is 
first and foremost a duty. It is an ethical end which is 
higher than the pleasure of the individual. Therefore, though 
divorce must be allowed in certain circumstances, it ought 
to be made as difficult as possible. It cannot be allowed 
merely at the pleasure of the individuals concerned. Marri- 
age, as an ethical institution, is an embodiment of the universal, 
and as such has a higher right than the particular inclinations, 
whims, and caprices, of the individual. It is the duty of the 
state to uphold the right of the ethical against personal 
inclinations. If marriage were merely a contrivance for 
benefiting the individuals who marry, divorce would have to 

1 Phil, of Right, § 158, Addition. 


be allowed whenever those individuals desired it. Or if 
marriage were merely a civil contract, it might be dissolved, 
like any other contract, by the consent of the parties. But 
both these views of marriage are false and ignore the ethical 

582. For the same reasons Hegel disparages the modern 
romantic notion that the essential thing about marriage is 
" being in love." Undoubtedly personal inclination, affection 
between the parties, mutual sympathies, etc., are important, 
and cannot be ignored. But to put exclusive emphasis upon 
these is to base marriage entirely upon subjective feeling. 
No doubt marriage is based upon feeling, but only upon feeling 
which has reason at its core. Reason appears here in the 
guise of feeling. Fundamentally, therefore, marriage is, like 
every other ethical institution, based upon reason. Ex- 
clusively to emphasize the side of feeling, of 14 being in love," 
is to degrade marriage from the position of a rational objective 
institution to the position of a mere arrangement for gratifying 
the personal inclinations of the individual. Such a view 
exalts the merely subjective and particular above the objective 
and universal. A wisely arranged marriage, accepted by the 
parents and the family, based upon rational considerations, 
is more ethical than a marriage based purely on romantic 
love. Provided the husband or wife is wisely selected, 
mutual affection, trust, inclination, and, in general, the side 
of subjective feeling, will spring up in due course. 

583. The public celebration of the marriage is not, as 
represented by some writers, an empty and meaningless 
formality, which might be dispensed with. It is, on the 
contrary, the symbol of the ethical element in marriage, of 
the right of society and the state to be interested therein, 
which right exists because marriage is not the private concern 
of the individuals but is an ethical and universal end. 

584. (2) The Family Means. Just as, in the sphere of 
abstract right, the single person necessarily embodies his 
freedom in the external form of property, so the family 
regarded as a person must have its family property. And 
because the family is one person, and not many, this property 



is the common possession of the whole family, though it may 
be administered by the husband as head of the family. He 
holds the family means in trust, and the members of the 
family have the right to be maintained, educated, etc., out of 
it. This is to be regarded, not as a privilege or favour, but 
as a right, founded upon reason. And to the rights correspond, 
of course, duties. 

585. (3) Dissolution of the Family. The unity of marriage, 
the coalescence of two individuals into a single person, re- 
mains, in the parents, a mere subjective feeling. In the 
children it becomes an objective fact. In the child the 
parents have their love, the unity of their marriage, existing 
before their eyes as an independent object. Children have 
the right to be educated out of the family means. Education 
consists in instilling into them the universal mind, and thus 
developing into actuality the freedom which they already 
potentially possess. When this process is complete, the 
children become themselves free independent persons, with the 
right to possess property of their own, and the right to form 
new families by marriage. This process constitutes the 
disruption of the old family. 


586. The notion of civil society follows logically from the 
disruption of the family. While the family still subsists as a 
family, its members do not bear to each other the relation of 
independent persons. With the disruption of the family they 
acquire that status. Hence arises a multiplicity of inde- 
pendent persons, externally related to each other as so many 
independent social atoms. So long as they remained within 
the family they were not ends in themselves, but the family 
was their end, — a higher end than the individual. Now, 
however, each independent atomic person becomes an end in 
himself, and admits no other end than himself. Each there- 
fore is bent upon treating himself only as an end and treating 


all other persons merely as means to his ends. In this way, 
however, each becomes entirely dependent upon all the others. 
For without them as means to his ends he cannot attain his 
ends. There arises, therefore, an absolute interdependence 
of all upon all, each using all the others as means to the 
satisfaction of his needs. This state of mutual dependence 
upon each other of independent persons is civil society. 

587. Whether or not civil society has historically arisen 
in the manner described is, of course, irrelevant. As a 
matter of fact it may rather have arisen through the collection 
of scattered families by some superior force, or in any other 
way. But what we are here concerned with is not the question 
of historical origin, but that of logical origin. The rational 
and logical basis of civil society, its essential nature and 
meaning, is, in the opinion of Hegel, that described in the last 
paragraph. That is its deduction. 

588. While the individual was still within the family, the 
family constituted his end. And this end was for him a 
universal end. It was not merely for his own hand that he 
fought and strove, not for his selfish individual interests, but 
essentially for the universal end, the family. Now, however, 
being reduced to a social atom, and treating only himself as an 
end, the universality of his purpose disappears and is replaced 
by particularity — the self-seeking pursuit of personal ends. 
But the universality of the family was precisely its ethical, 
or rational, element. Hence in civil society there appears to 
be a loss of the ethical. It is for this reason that society 
often seems in the last analysis merely to be based upon 
" intelligent self-seeking/ ' And this is really true so long as 
we regard civil society as the final stage of development. But 
as we proceed we shall see that the universal is merely tem- 
porarily submerged, and again breaks through, giving rise 
to increasingly ethical elements which culminate in the state 
as the final manifestation of the ethical idea. Civil society 
is a mere abstraction, a one-sided moment which is superseded 
in the state. 

589. What Hegel means by civil society as distinguished 
from the state, will be more fully explained shortly. Mean- 



while we may note that its essential notion is that of a 
systematic mutual interdependence of persons, each seeking 
their own ends. It is essentially the moment of particularity 
that is here emphasized. Universality, which had embodied 
itself in the family, has disappeared. Particularity takes its 
place, and makes itself felt in the fact that there are now only 
particular persons, and that these persons are seeking, not the 
universal well-being, but only their own particular well-being. 
Thus the movement from the family to civil society corre- 
sponds with, and is in reality governed by, the movement of 
the Notion. The first moment of the Notion is universality, — 
here represented by the family. The second moment of the 
Notion is particularity, which involves the disappearance of 
the universal. This is here represented by civil society with 
its concomitant disappearance of the ethical. But just as, in 
the pure Notion, particularity is a mere moment, and, if taken 
by itself, an impossible abstraction, so it is here with the 
particularity of civil society. The particular, taken in 
abstraction, purports to be something on its own account, 
independent of the universal. But in fact it has proceeded 
out of the universal, is a manifestation of the universal, and 
will return to the universal. So it is here. The un-ethical 
self-seeking which shows itself in civil society is a mere abstract 
factor, which, however, is based upon the universal and the 
ethical, though shallow persons take it for the fundamental 
basis of society. 

590. The beginner's natural difficulty in understanding the 
difference between what Hegel calls civil society, which is 
dealt with in the present section, and the state, which does 
not make its appearance till the next section, will disappear 
if we bear in mind that civil society is a mere abstract factor 
of the state which does not and cannot exist by itself without 
the state. Looking over the headings of the sub-sections in 
the present sphere of civil society, and seeing that they 
include such institutions as law courts, police, and corpora- 
tions, we might well be inclined to ask how such institutions 
can possibly exist without a state, and how Hegel can be 
justified in supposing that they arise before the state arises, 


and whether law courts and police are not essentially parts 
of the state, and why therefore they should be relegated to 
some kind of civil society which is not the state. But the 
answer is that Hegel does not for a moment suppose that these 
institutions can exist without the state. Civil society cannot 
exist without the state, of which it is a mere factor, and, 
considered apart from the state, a mere abstraction. Yet 
just because it is such an abstraction it necessarily arises in 
logical order before the more concrete institution of the state, 
although in point of time it may arise after the state. It is 
true, too, that law courts, police, etc., are essentially parts of 
the state, but, in the opinion of Hegel, they belong to that 
abstract aspect of the state which he calls civil society. 

591. Civil society, therefore, may be logically distinguished 
from the fully developed state, though it cannot exist without 
it. It is simply that abstract aspect of the state in which the 
community is regarded as a collection of independent persons, 
all seeking their own ends, and attaining them, not inde- 
pendently of each other, but by means of each other, i.e. 
through the working of the whole social machine. The 
essential difference between civil society and the state is that 
in the former the individual is for himself the sole end, so that 
his end is particular, while in the latter the state is a higher 
end for which the individual exists, so that his end is universal. 

592. Theories which regard the state as based upon in- 
telligent self-interest ; individualistic doctrines, like those of 
Herbert Spencer, which regard the state as a mechanical 
contrivance intended only to promote the greatest well-being 
of each individual ; the theory of M laissez-faire " ; — all such 
theories are half-truths because they have not got beyond the 
point of view of civil society, have not risen to the true con- 
ception of the state. What they call the state is no more 
than what Hegel calls civil society. These views are mere 
abstractions. The opinion which regards the state and the 
individual as opposed to each other, which sets up the anti- 
thesis between absolute individualism, or anarchism, on the 
one hand, and absolute socialism, on the other, and sees in 
actual society only a compromise between these hostile 



principles, is founded on the same abstraction. It views the 
particular — i.e. the individual person — as an abstract par- 
ticular, and the universal — i.e. the state — as an abstract 
universal, and believes that particular and universal are 
absolutely opposite and hostile principles which can only be 
forced together by some mechanical compromise. But the 
truth is that particular and universal are mere factors of the 
concrete Notion, and are no more opposite than they are 
absolutely identical. Instead of the ends and the interests 
of the individual being set apart on the one side, and the ends 
and interests of the state set apart on the other, facing each 
other in irreconcileable hostility, the truth rather is that the 
end of the individual and the end of the state are identical 
in their difference, as will appear when we reach the theory of 
the state. The false views here discussed rest upon belief 
in the absolute opposition of particular and universal, i.e. 
they are the views of the abstract understanding, whereas the 
true nature of the state is only cognizable by the speculative 
reason, which apprehends identity in difference. 

593. The moment of particularity is essential to civil society. 
But the moment of universality also makes its presence felt 
from the very first. For the individual now seeks only his 
private and particular ends. But in doing so he is really 
serving the universal, though he neither desires nor even 
knows this. The fabric of society is such that each is de- 
pendent upon all. Each, therefore, in pursuing his own weal, 
achieves the weal of the whole community. I perform work 
in order to satisfy my hunger. But my work benefits the 
whole community. Thus in civil society the two prin- 
ciples of particularity and universality are both operative. 
But their union is not a true organic union. They have 
fallen asunder and appear as opposite principles between which 
a compromise is struck. Their genuine unity is not found 
until we reach the state. 

594. The principle of particularity is what has been called 
elsewhere (560) the right of the subject. It is the individual's 
right to subjective personal freedom. The right of the 
subject is thus a necessary factor of the state. Plato in his 


Republic overlooked this, and made the state, i.e. the universal, 
absolute as against the individual subject. Hence Plato's 
state is founded upon the abstract universal, i.e. the universal 
which excludes the particular, and not, as it should have been, 
upon the concrete Notion. 

595. Civil society has three phases : (1) The system of wants, 
(2) administration of justice, (3) police and corporation. 

Sub-Section I 


596. The independent person, regarding himself as the 
sole end, seeks to achieve only his private ends. Since these 
are merely personal, and not universal, ends, they are his 
wants % — his need of food, drink, clothing, housing, etc. They 
need not necessarily be material wants, but the point is that 
they are merely personal and selfish, and lack universality. 
But since the individual uses all other individuals as means to 
his ends, and since he is used in the same manner by them, 
there arises a system of mutual dependencies in the social 
fabric. I work for my own ends. But others depend on my 
work for the satisfaction of their wants ; and I depend on 
theirs. This is the system of wants. 

597. It has three factors : 

(a) The first factor is the mutual dependence just described; 
The essential universality of the human spirit makes its 
appearance here. Even when he aims at working solely for 
himself, man cannot help working in reality for the universal. 
In promoting his own ends he promotes the universal end. In 
this man, because he is rational, differs from the animal, whose 
impulses end, as they began, in particularity. 

(b) The second factor is labour. Labour is the instrument 
whereby man moulds the crude material with which nature 
presents him into forms suitable for the satisfaction of his 
wants. The understanding analyzes and splits up each want 
into component parts. Each part becomes itself a want. 
This sub-division may proceed indefinitely in the multiplica- 
tion and refinement of wants. And as labour follows these 



divisions which the understanding introduces, and specializes 
itself towards the satisfaction of these increasingly specialized 
needs, we get the principle of the division of labour. 

(c) The third factor is wealth. The individual, while pro- 
ducing for himself, is in reality producing for all. Hence 
there comes into existence a general stock of wealth, which 
may be regarded as the property of the whole community. 

598. It is in this sphere of the system of wants that there 
arises the division of society into classes or estates, and this 
division is, according to Hegel, a logical necessity, and is 
founded upon the Notion. The various kinds of wants group 
themselves into subsidiary systems of wants, and those who 
devote themselves to the production of the things necessary 
for the satisfaction of each group of wants constitute a class. 
There are three main classes : 

(a) The agricultural class. This corresponds to the first 
phase of thought, viz. immediacy, universality in which 
difference and particularity are implicit, but from which they 
have not yet emerged. For this class lives in simple, direct, 
contact with nature, receiving what she gives, in a spirit of 
dependence and trust into which reflection — which is the 
moment of difference — has not yet entered. 

(b) The industrial and commercial class. This class depends 
less on nature and more upon its own work. It uses the 
understanding to analyze wants and to mould the materials 
of nature to their satisfaction. It is thus the class in which 
the principle of understanding, of reflection, operates. It is 
the moment of particularity. 

(c) The universal class. This class has for its work and 
purpose the universal interests of society and the state. It is 
the governing class. It depends upon the moment of reason. 

599. It is very important to note, however, that Hegel does 
not make birth, pedigree, etc., the essential considerations 
in deciding the question to what class a man is to belong. 
Capacity, birth, and other accidental circumstances, he says, 
play their part. But the final decision rests with the free 
choice of the individual, and his ability to perform the func- 
tions of the class to which he aspires. He censures Plato for 


making the separation of individuals into classes a function 
of the rulers, thus, as usual, denying the subjective rights of 
freedom to the individual. And he animadverts upon the 
caste system of India which makes birth the sole deciding 
factor in the matter. 

Sub-Section II 


600. Civil society is composed of persons. Because they 
are persons, they have rights (532). The existence of these 
rights does not indeed arise for the first time at this point. 
They were deduced at the very beginning of the sphere of 
objective spirit. But what happens at the present point of 
the dialectic is that those rights, which have existed as bare 
rights all through the sphere of objective spirit, are now 
transformed into laws. This happens through the mutual 
dependence of persons upon each other, the mutual exchange 
of wants and labour for their satisfaction. For there has now 
arisen an objective fabric of society. This fabric is something 
objective in the sense that it is established, instituted. It 
definitely exists, and is not a mere idea. It follows therefore 
that the relations between the parts of this fabric are likewise 
established and objective. But the parts of the social fabric 
are the persons, and the external relations which persons bear 
to each other are essentially their rights and duties towards 
each other. Hence what formerly existed as bare rights, 
existing in a subjective way only in the person, now proceeds 
forth into objectivity, becomes definitely established, insti- 
tuted, and recognized as having universal validity and 
authority in the social fabric. When abstract right is thus 
established as authoritative in society, it is then no longer 
abstract, but is positive right, i.e. law. Hence arises the 
administration of justice. 

601. [a) Thus the first aspect of the administration of 
justice is the recognition of the binding force of right, which, 
by means of this binding force, acquires the character of 
positive law. It is the universality of law which is its essentiaj 



feature, and this universality is ensured only by its definite 
establishment in objectivity. Customs, which have not yet 
reached the level of becoming laws, lack this universality 
just because they are not definitely instituted. Customs differ 
from laws only in this, that they are affected with accidentality 
and contingency. They are subjective and partial in their 
application. When they acquire universal application and 
are definitely instituted, they become laws. And hence the 
historical origin of early law is to be found in custom. 

The subject-matter of the laws will be the relations of 
persons through right, wrong, crime, property, contract, 
marriage, etc., which have already been deduced. But it is 
only the external relations of persons to each other which can 
be made the subject of law, for it is only these that are 
objectified in the social fabric. What is internal, subjective, 
and private to the will, the sphere of morality proper, is not 
amenable to law. It is for this reason that the law does not 
interfere, for example, in the internal relations of the family, 
the private relations of husband, wife, and children. For 
these are not related externally to each other as independent 
persons. The family is rather a single person, and the relations 
of its members are internal and subjective. 

Reason determines the laws. Their analysis, their applica- 
tion to special cases, the production within them of divisions 
and sub-divisions, distinctions, and refinements, is the work of 
the understanding. These sub-divisions and refinements may 
proceed ad infinitum. And in their application to the multitude 
of empirical particulars in the world of facts it is not to be 
expected that reason, or the Notion, can always be traced. 
For we here descend into the region of the finite, which is the 
region of contingency and caprice. Whether a man deserves 
a fine of ten dollars or ten and a half, and such questions, 
cannot be decided on purely rational grounds, or deduced 
from the Notion. 

602. (b) The second essential in this sphere is that the laws 
should be promulgated and universally known. The proof 
or deduction of this rests, not upon expediency, but upon the 
Notion itself. For law is merely established right. And 


right accrues to persons by virtue of the infinitude of their 
self-consciousness (532). The law is an embodiment of my 
freedom and my personality. Hence it is only binding upon 
me when recognized as such. It is my right to know and 
recognize the law as my own. Only to accept as binding what 
my reason recognizes as rational is part of the right of the 
subject. Laws made in secret, laws which are unknown to 
those w r ho are expected to obey them, are enforced only as 
alien and external commands. And their enforcement is a 
violation of the rights of freedom of the subject. Therefore 
the laws should be made as widely known as possible. They 
should be embodied in codes which all may read. To bury 
them in inaccessible records of judicial decisions, to write 
them in a foreign tongue, to regard them as the esoteric 
knowledge of a class, — such proceedings do violence to the 
idea of freedom. For the same reasons the proceedings of 
the courts in which the law is administered should be open to 
the public. 

Objection is often taken to the importance which the law 
attaches to outward forms and ceremonies. Legal formalities, 
however, are likewise based upon the necessity that legal 
acts should be established, definitely constituted, and pro- 
mulgated. Thus a sale of lands without any formality 
remains a mere subjective act of the wills of the parties. 
The embodiment of the contract in a formal deed gives 
objectivity to the act of the will. The transfer is then some* 
thing established and known. " My will is rational : it has 
validity ; and this validity is to be recognized by others." 1 
Hence the necessity of forms. We place boundary stones and 
keep registers of mortgages, for similar reasons. 

603. (c) Right, being now established in the form of law, 
is an existent fact in the world. It has, therefore, to maintain 
itself in the world, to vindicate itself against the non-universal 
or capricious acts of particular wills. And it has to descend 
from generality to individual cases, to get itself actually carried 
out in the detail of life. For the performance of these offices 
there is necessary a constituted authority, the court of justice, 
1 Phil, of Right, § 217, Addition, 



The punishments of wrongs by private persons acting under 
the sway of their private impulses and interests, i.e. revenge, 
does not vindicate right, but merely creates a new wrong 
(551). But the court of justice represents, not the private 
interests of the injured person, but rather the injured uni- 
versal, the outraged law, and its judgments vindicate right. 

The court need not necessarily consist of a single judge. 
Questions of fact are as well adjudicated upon by a jury as by 
a judge. 

Sub-Section III 


604. (a) The fabric of civil society is founded upon the 
system of wants in which each seeks his own ends, the sum of 
which is his well-being. The pursuit of his well-being is not 
merely natural ; it is his right (564). The individual's right 
to well-being has to be exercised in a world of empirical 
contingencies which tend perpetually to infringe upon it. 
To secure the person, property, and well-being of the individual 
against the inroads of the contingent, casual, and fortuitous 
is the function of the police. Apart from crime, arbitrary 
choice and capricious actions have a place in the exercise of 
rights of property and other lawful acts. And such acts of 
one individual may overlap and interfere with the well-being 
of other individuals. The regulation of such matters, and the 
protection of the individual against such injuries, is also within 
the sphere of the police, and is the justification for police 
control and supervision. 

The individual's right to well-being thus involves, on the 
negative side, the removal of casual and fortuitous hindrances 
to it. This gives rise to the police. On its positive side it 
involves the right that the well-being of the individual should 
be actualized, instituted, and established in the world. This 
gives rise to 

(b) The corporation. It is not the universal interests of 
society that are here to be considered, but rather the particular 
well-being of the individual which, because it is a right, has to 
be established and made objective in an institution. Hence 


groups of individuals, whose well-being depends upon similar 
interests, form associations, which are recognized and estab- 
lished as corporations. These occur for the most part in the 
commercial class. 

Though a corporation pursues, in the first instance, its own 
special interests, its activities nevertheless promote the 
universal ends of society, just as the self-seeking activities 
of the individual do so. And since the aims of the corporation 
are, in any case, wider and relatively more universal than those 
of the single individual, their effect is to raise the individual 
member out of his purely self-seeking activities towards the 
universal. c< In our modern states the citizens participate 
only slightly in the general business. It is, however, needful 
to provide the ethical man with a universal activity, one above 
his private ends. This universal, with which the modern state 
does not always supply him, is given by the corporation. 
We have already seen that the individual, while maintaining 
himself in the civic community, acts also for others. But this 
unconscious necessity is not enough. It is in the corporation 
that a conscious and reflective ethical reality is first reached." 1 
This is a penetrating remark. It is a matter of experience 
and observation how deeply a man, once immersed in selfish 
ends, may become imbued with public spirit by participating 
in the proceedings of a chamber of commerce or other such 


605. So far as I can see Hegel gives no genuine deduction 
of the state. A real transition may be said to fall into three 
parts. It starts (1) from the first notion, — in this case it 
would be the notion of civil society (or the more specialized 
notion of the corporation), and passes by (2) a logical move- 
ment into (3) the second or deduced notion — in this case the 
notion of the state — which will then be explicated (defined), 

1 Phil, of Right, § 255, Addition. 



and its relation to the previous notions, as their unity, if it is 
a synthesis, or as opposite, if it is an antithesis, set out. In 
the present case all that Hegel does is to set forth the exposition 
of the notion of the state, and to show it in its relation to 
the previous notions, i.e. as the unity of the family and civil 
society. There is no strict logical movement from one notion 
to the other. 

606. The transition, such as it is, is contained in the following 
words in the Philosophy of Right : " The limited and finite 
end of the corporation has its truth in the absolutely universal 
end and the absolute actuality of this end. This actualized 
end is also the truth of the division involved in the external 
system of police, which is merely a relative identity of the 
divided elements. Thus the sphere of civil society passes 
into the state." 1 After this the features of the new notion, the 
state, are unfolded. The Encyclopaedia contains no transition 
at all, but begins at once with the definition of the notion of 
the state. 2 

The passage quoted above may be expanded as follows : 
The family represents the first stage of the Notion, that of 
undifferentiated universality in which the moment of par- 
ticularity is implicit, but from which it has not yet emerged. 
The family is one, a unity, and its members, not being in- 
dependent persons, are still absorbed within it. Only with 
the dissolution of the family, when the members become 
independent persons, does the moment of particularity come 
to light. In civil society the moments of universality and 
particularity have fallen asunder and become separated 
(593)- The particular, i.e. the private purposes of the indi- 
vidual, stands opposed to the universal, i.e. the universal ends 
of society, and this gives rise to the antagonisms between 
private interest and public interest, between anarchism and 

As we advance from phase to phase of civil society we find 
the two opposed sides approaching each other, and making 
towards a unity. In the system of wants they are in down- 
right opposition, but are yet mutually interdependent. In 
1 Phil, of Right, § 256. * Phil, of Mind, § 535. 



the administration of justice they come together to this extent, 
that particular and universal are brought into harmony, not 
throughout society, but in single special cases. The universal 
will, in the form of the law, gets itself definitely carried out 
in this or that particular instance which is the subject-matter 
of the suit. In the corporation a further advance is made. 
A relatively universal purpose now becomes identified with the 
private interests of a body of persons, and this unity of 
universal and particular covers, not yet the whole of society, 
but at least that considerable area of it which is included in 
the corporation. The completion of this process is the 
state. In the state universal and particular are com- 
pletely reconciled. The end of the individual, and of every 
individual, is now identical with the universal end of the 
state (592). This gives the definition, or notion, of the state, 
namely, that it is the unity in difference of the universal 
principle of the family and the particular principle of civil 
society. This is what it should be as the synthesis of the 

607. It cannot be said that this is a genuine deduction. 
It is merely a comparative description of the various phases 
of the ethical idea. We see that, if we advance from the 
idea of civil society to that of the state, a reconciliation of the 
universal and particular is found. But we cannot see any 
logical necessity why we must advance. In the Logic the 
deduction of the category of becoming rested upon the fact 
that to think being forces us to think its passage into nothing, 
and vice versa, and that the thought of this passage is the 
thought of becoming. We then see that becoming is the 
unity of being and nothing. But if, instead of this, Hegel 
had merely pointed out that, as a matter of fact, being and 
nothing are opposed, and that, as a matter of fact, becoming 
contains both and is thus a unity of the two, so that if we 
choose to pass to the category of becoming we find the recon- 
ciliation we want — if Hegel had done this without proving 
that it is not by our mere arbitrary choice that we pass to 
becoming, but by a necessity of thought — then his deduction 
would have been inadequate. This is precisely what he has 



done here. He has merely pointed out that the family as 
universal, and civil society as particular, stand opposed, that 
the state is the unity of both, so that if we choose to pass to 
the state we find the reconcilation we want. 

608. The combination of the first two moments of the 
Notion, universality and particularity, produces the third 
moment, individuality. Hence the state is a true individual. 
It is a person, an organism which is self-differentiating in such 
a manner that the life of the whole appears in all the parts. 
This means that the true life of the parts, i.e. the individuals, 
is found in and is identical with the life of the whole, the 
state. The state is thus only the individual himself objectified 
and eternalized by the elimination of his merely accidental 
and ephemeral features and the retention of what is universal 
in him. The individual is implicitly universal. Universality 
is his essence. The state is the actual universal, and is thus 
simply the individual actualized and objectified. Thus the 
state is no alien authority which imposes itself externally 
upon the individual and suppresses his individuality. On 
the contrary the state is the individual himself. And it is 
only in the state that his individuality is realized. For this 
reason the state is the supreme embodiment of freedom, for 
in being determined by it the individual is now wholly de- 
termined by his essential self, by that which is true and 
universal in him. 

609. Such is the notion of the state. No doubt existing 
states fall short of the notion, are deformed, embody untrue 
principles, and so on. But this is inevitable. 11 Although a 
state may be declared to violate right principles, and to be 
defective in various ways, it always contains the essential 
moments of its existence, if, that is to say, it belongs to the 
full-formed states of our own time ... It is in the world, 
in the sphere of caprice, accident, and error. Evil can 
doubtless disfigure it in many ways, but the ugliest man, the 
criminal, the invalid, the cripple, are living men." 1 

Passages like this should be remembered when such charges 
are brought against Hegel as that he believed that " whatever 
1 Phil, of Right, § 258, Addition. 


is is right," that he opposed all reform, that he was a re- 
actionary, an enemy of liberty, a supporter of the state at all 
hazards against the individual. A supporter of the state he 
most certainly was, but only because he saw in it, not the 
enemy of individual liberty, but the very embodiment of it. 
And he rightly rebuked those who in their vanity and self- 
conceit imagine that their reason, their particular ideas, are 
the universal truth which should overturn states and undo at 
a stroke the work of the ages. These people fail to see that 
existing states, with all their faults, are yet the work of the 
world-reason labouring through the ages towards its ends, and 
are the product, not of the whims of this or that individual, 
but of the universal human spirit. But by this it is not meant 
to deny that there are defects, and that these should be 

610. The state is rational, because it is universal, a uni- 
versality which is not abstract, but concrete, inasmuch as it 
has absorbed its opposite, the particular into itself. It is, 
therefore, the absolute, final, and true embodiment and 
actualization of the ethical idea. The Idea here reaches the 
highest development which is possible for it in the sphere of 
objective spirit. Further development takes it outside the 
sphere of ethics into that of absolute spirit. 

As the ethical sphere is the sphere of the objectification of 
the will, the state is the realization in actuality of the universal 
will. It is the identity of the will with its notion. 

611. The state is not only the ethical substance in its 
highest phase, but it is the self-conscious ethical substance. 
The family possesses rationality, i.e. universality, but only 
in the form of feeling, love. The content of the family is thus 
universal, but its form is not. For universality is essentially 
thought, and that which is not thought, but only feeling, is 
not out and out universal. It is universal in its content, 
because its aims and purposes are in accord with the universal. 
But it is itself unaware of this. It does not know. It only 
feels. The absolutely universal must be universal both in 
content and in form ; that is to say, its universal ends must 
not be merely groped for in vague feeling, but must be present 



to consciousness in the form of thought. This absolute 
universality is attained in the state. It consciously seeks 
universal ends, and is aware of the ends which it seeks. It 
knows the reason of what it does, whereas the family, though 
it may act rationally, does so only by instinct. 

612. That the state is rational means that it is no chance 
product of the contingent forces of nature, or of the caprice 
of man, but is an absolutely necessary development of the 
world-reason, an embodiment of the Absolute. It is not a 
means for securing the welfare of the individual. It is not a 
means to anything. It is an end in itself. And because it is a 
higher end than the individual, it may demand the sacrifice 
of the latter to its higher ends. But it is, of course, only for the 
true, universal, right, and rational, ends of the state that 
such a sacrifice can be demanded. Hence this doctrine must 
not be twisted into a justification of the arbitrary acts of rulers 
working for their own ends and not for the true ends of the 
state. Nor does it mean that the individuality and freedom 
of the individual, his rights and liberties, are to be denied. On 
the contrary, the true life of the individual, his individuality, 
liberty, and rights, are realized only by his being a member 
of the state and finding its being identical with his own. 

Thus all theories which regard the state as a mere combina- 
tion of individuals for mutual protection, or as existing in 
order to increase the wealth and strength of its members, or as 
a compromise or contract whereby individuals agree to restrict 
their liberties on condition that all other individuals do the 
same, — such theories are to be condemned because they make 
the state a mere means to carry out the ends of the individual. 
The state is, on the contrary, the higher end. 

613. The notion of the state, i.e. what the state essentially 
is in its inherent nature, the meaning and significance of the 
state, these, which are here expounded, are, of course, quite 
independent of any question of the historical origin of states. 
States may have arisen by fraud, or force, or in any other 
way. That is irrelevant to their rational basis and nature. 

614. The three phases of the state are (1) Its constitution, 
or internal polity, the internal relations of itself to its members, 


and of its members to one another ; (2) international law, — 
the relation of the state to other states, whereby it passes 
into (3) universal history. 

Sub-Section I 

615. 4 4 Everything depends on the union of universality 
and particularity in the state." 1 Universality is represented 
by the state considered in abstraction from the individual. 
Particularity is represented by the private ends and interests 
of individuals. The essence of the true state is the thorough 
interpenetration of these two sides, their union in a concrete 
identity. Both extremes, that of state right on the one hand, 
and that of individual freedom on the other, must be fully 
developed to their extreme limits and yet retained within the 
unity of the state. The further each is developed and the 
deeper the opposition between them, the more rich and con- 
crete will be the unity to which they are brought back, the 
more strong and real will be the state. 

The fault of the ancient states generally, a fault faithfully 
mirrored in Plato's Republic, was that they developed the side 
of universality exclusively, and failed to develop the principle 
of individual freedom and the right of the subject. Their 
universality, because it excluded the particular, was the 
abstract universal. The special feature of the modern state 
is that it has developed the principle of individual freedom, 
so that its universality contains the particular, and is a con- 
crete universal. This error of the ancient state, the superi- 
ority of the modern state and the fundamental importance of 
developing the principle of individual freedom to its extreme 
limit, are emphatically and repeatedly asserted by Hegel in 
passage after passage. So that Schwegler is not justified in 
his remark that " Hegel has a decided leaning to the ancient 
political idea which completely subordinates the individual, 
the right of subjectivity, to the will of the state." 2 

1 Phil, of Right, § 261, Addition. 

a Schw., Handbook of the H. of Ph., Stirling, 14th edition, p. 340. 



616. This union of universality and particularity gives us, 
then, the internal relation of the state to its citizens, the main 
features of the constitution or internal polity. The identity 
of universal and particular, of state claims and individual 
claims, is founded upon the fact that the individual is 
implicitly universal, and that the state, as the actual 
universal, is but the objectification of the true self of the 
individual. And this identification is in the actual world 
brought about in two ways. Firstly, the actions of individuals, 
even when seeking solely their private ends, bring about, 
in spite of themselves, universal results. This we have seen 
in the system of wants. Secondly, the individuals in a 
highly civilized state tend more and more deliberately and 
consciously to understand the universal purposes of the state 
and to identify themselves therewith. The state, too, though 
it logically supersedes the family and civil society with its 
corporations, nevertheless preserves them as moments within 
itself, " sublates n them. For this reason the state fosters 
the institutions of civil society, the family and the. individual. 
It develops their well-being and furthers their interests to the 
utmost. Hence the citizens come to know that the state is 
their best friend, that it preserves their liberties and rights, 
that it fosters and advances their interests, that it secures 
their property and persons. In this way political sentiment 
and patriotism spring up, and are educated. True patriotism 
is not the windy and bombastic sentiment so often described 
by that name, but is simply the deep-seated and firm conviction 
of the citizens that the state is their substantive basis and end, 
that it is the embodiment of themselves and their liberties. 

617. The state is essentially an organism, which evolves 
its internal differences out of its own unity, gives them life 
as independent subsistencies, and yet retains them within its 
own unity (608). These differences which it develops within 
itself are the different functions and branches of the public 
affairs of the state. And because the state is the embodiment 
of reason, i.e. of the Notion, its self-differentiation proceeds 
in accordance with the Notion. Its aspects are the universal, 
the particular, and the individual. The universal aspect of the 


state is its function as source of the laws, and this gives us the 
legislature. Its particular aspect is found in the application 
of the laws to special cases, and this gives us the executive 
(in which Hegel includes the judiciary). The moment of 
individuality is embodied in the person of the monarch. 

If the logical order of the development of the Notion were 
followed, the moment of individuality would be dealt with 
last. Hegel, however, deals with it first, and begins the 
discussion of the constitution with considerations regarding 
the form of monarchy. No reason is given for this reversal 
of the logical order. Apparently it is an odd way of showing 
respect for the monarch ! 

618. But before discussing the three main branches of the 
state, a word must be said regarding their relations to one 
another. A great point is often made of the separation of the 
functions of legislature, executive, and judiciary. According 
to popular opinion each is to be regarded as a check upon the 
others, and this separation is looked upon as a guarantee of 
freedom. It is only the Notion, Hegel thinks, which can 
throw light upon this matter, for the state is but the Notion 
existent in objectivity. Now the three factors of the Notion 
are indeed separate and radically distinct. But they are 
none the less identical, and each factor contains the other two 
factors within itself, so that each factor is itself the totality 
of the Notion (318). Any talk, therefore, of an absolute 
separation and independence of one another on the part of the 
three elements of the state is quite idle. The monarch, the 
legislature, and the executive, must, on the one hand, be 
separate and clearly differentiated in function, as the factors 
of the Notion are. But that they should exist as independent 
entities, opposing and checking each other, would be an 
abstract state of things which could only end in the dissolution 
of the state. They must, on the contrary, all be taken up 
into the one life of the organic whole which is the state. And 
for this reason Hegel approves of the rule of the English 
constitution by which the various heads of the executive 
branches of the Government are at the same time members 
of the legislature. 



We may now deal with the three functions of the state in 
the order in which Hegel takes them. 

A. The Monarch. 

619. The fully developed state, that is, the state which alone 
completely embodies the logical Notion, and which is alone 
completely rational, is a constitutional monarchy. In Hegel's 
opinion there must be a monarch, and other forms of govern- 
ment, as for example republics, are imperfect. 

Hegel's proof of this, i.e. his deduction of the institution of 
monarchy, may be considered as resolving itself into two 
stages, the first of which is valid, the second invalid. Firstly, 
the moment of individuality in the Notion has to be repre- 
sented in the state. Now individuality, as the third factor 
of the Notion, contains also the other two factors and is 
therefore the totality of the Notion. The Notion, however, 
is subjectivity (321). The logical Notion itself is, of course, 
a mere category, or abstract thought, the abstract thought of 
subjectivity. But the state is the logical Notion become 
actual and existent. Therefore the moment of individuality 
must give rise to an institution within the state which is 
essentially an actual and existent subjectivity. Subjectivity, 
however, is only actual and existent in a single subject, a 
person. The subjectivity of a mass of persons, an assembly, 
or a people, is a mere abstraction. The logical factor of 
individuality when realized in objectivity and made existent 
can only be an individual, — one person, not many. 

Now individuality is the whole Notion. It is itself the 
totality of the three factors. This gives us the idea of the 
state as having a single life, as a single whole or organism. The 
single life governs and directs the whole organism in all its 
differentiated functions and activities. Hence this single 
life of the state, this final governing and directing centre, 
this ideal unity which takes up all its parts into itself, can only 
be actual and existent in a single existent individual. This 
individual embodies and represents the life of the whole. 

Now this deduction gives us so far the following result, 
that there must be at the head of the state a single individual, 


who coordinates all the functions of the state, and in whom 
all its manifold activities meet. So far the deduction may be 
regarded as valid. But it does not at all follow that this 
single individual is to be a monarch. The president of a 
republic, even the dictator of a military autocracy, is equally 
a single individual at the head of the state. No doubt it is 
essential that at the summit of the state there should always 
be one individual, even if he is only the chairman of a com- 
mittee ; and, as Hegel himself points out, even in imperfect 
states it is invariably so. Invariably one person, a statesman, 
a general, a king, a chairman, stands at the apex. 

By the second step in the deduction Hegel purports further 
to deduce that this individual must be an hereditary monarch. 
In the Philosophy of Right the deduction runs : 4 ' This ulti- 
mate self of the state's will is in this its abstraction an indi- 
viduality, which is simple and direct. Hence its very 
conception implies that it is natural. Thus the monarch . . . 
is appointed to the dignity of a monarch in a directly natural 
way, by natural birth." 1 In the Encyclopaedia he says : 
"That subjectivity . . . being simple self -relation, has at- 
tached to it the characteristic of immediacy, and then of 
nature, — whereby the destination of individuals for the 
dignity of the princely power is fixed by inheritance." 2 
The meaning of these passages appears to be simply this : 
that the ruler as an existent individual has been deduced : 
that because he is existent he is there, present to the senses, 
and in that sense immediate. What is thus given as an im- 
mediate fact, is not the product of spirit, but belongs to 
nature. The monarch therefore is simply presented by 
nature, by natural means, i.e. by birth. Such a deduction, 
with its vague associative connections between immediacy, 
nature, and birth, can only be regarded as utterly fanciful. 
One might, on identical grounds, argue that members of the 
legislature, the executive, even the voters, should be chosen 
by hereditary right, — since all these persons are equally 
immediately existent and there. 

620. The fact is that Hegel has here foisted in his private 
1 PhiL of Right, § 280. * Phil, of Mind, § 542, 



opinion, his subjective preference for monarchy, into the 
objective movement of the dialectic. He purports to deduce 
it, and no doubt believes that he has done so. All he has 
actually deduced is the necessity of a single individual as 
head of the state ; and this, of course, is as consistent with 
republicanism as it is with monarchism. 

621. The moment of individuality contains the universal 
and the particular within itself. Hence the monarch, as 
universality, gives ultimate sanction to the laws, which are 
regarded as flowing from him (in the English constitution 
the King is, even formally, a part of the legislature). As em- 
bodying the particular, again, the monarch is the ultimate 
source of executive acts. In him is the final point of de- 
cision, the last " I will " which gives legality to the acts of his 
ministers. Thus the function of the monarch contains in 
itself the three elements of the totality. 

622. By all this, however, Hegel does not mean it to be 
understood that the monarch has the absolute power of a 
despot. If the monarch, by himself, by his own arbitrary 
acts, governs, legislates, and decides, — such a state of affairs 
contradicts the thorough -going self-differentiation of the 
Notion. That differentiation involves the existence of a 
distinct legislature, which is independent to the extreme 
limit compatible with the unity of the state as an organism. 
It further involves the existence of a similarly independent 
executive. The monarch acts on the advice of his council of 
ministers. It is only the final act of formal sanction, the 
last 14 I will " which is the function of the prince. " For this 
office is needed only a man who says ' Yes,' and so puts the 
dot upon the i. n 1 It " is not meant that the monarch can 
be wilful in his acts. Rather is he bound to the concrete 
content of the advice of his councillors, and, when the consti- 
tution is established, he has often nothing to do but sign 
his name. But this name is weighty. It is the summit, 
over which nothing can climb. 1 1 2 The completely rational 
state, thus, is not merely a monarchy but a constitutional 

1 Phil, of Right, § 280, Addition. 2 Ibid., § 279, Addition. 


S. The Executive. 

623. To the moment of particularity in the logical Notion 
corresponds the function of executive government in the 
state. This function consists in the application of the uni- 
versal, i.e. the laws and the constitution, to the individual 
case, and to private interests. " It is their duty," i.e. that of 
the executive officers, 41 to care for each particular thing in 
the civil society, and in these private ends make to prevail 
the universal interest. 1 ' 1 

Hegel has some apt remarks about the selection of 
executive officers, their duties, the division of offices, etc. 
But it is doubtful how far these remarks can be regarded 
as flowing from the Notion. 

C. The Legislature. 

624. The laws, as such, do not regard this or that individual 
case, but are the general principles of the state's activity. 
They represent, therefore, the moment of universality, and 
require for their maintenance, extension, and growth a 
separate branch of the state, the legislature. No legislature, 
however, lays down laws for the first time, or creates the body 
of law ex nihilo. The laws already exist, and have grown up 
with the constitution. The function of the legislature is 
rather to develop and extend the already existent body of 
laws, and to suit it to fresh needs as they arise. 

625. As regards the constitution of the legislature and the 
question of suffrage, Hegel is not greatly in favour of the 
democratic view that all individuals, as such, have the right 
to make their voices heard in the election of representatives. 
For the state is the embodiment, not of the common will, or 
the will of the majority, but of the universal or rational will 
as such (546). There is no guarantee that the majority will 
will the universal and rational. The principle of freedom 
does not consist in obeying the will of the majority, but in 
obeying the universal will which is the obj edification of the 
individual's true self. 

» Phil, of Right, § 287. 



Hegel thinks that the right of the individual to participate 
in public affairs should rather take other forms. The 
" people," if by that phrase is meant merely the multitude of 
atomistic individuals, is simply an incoherent and inarticulate 
formless mass. The direct government by this formless mass 
as such is not to be desired. But this multitude becomes 
organized and rationalized in the shape of institutions which 
exist within the state, viz. the classes (598) and the corpora- 
tions (604). It is rather these who should be represented in 
the legislature. 

Secondly, the individual can make his voice heard and his 
opinions felt in the formation of public opinion, with which is 
connected the powerful weapon of the press. The state will 
be guided and assisted by public opinion, but not dictated to 
by it. Public opinion, the views of the formless mass of 
individuals, is not fit to take the helm of state. To the com- 
mon argument that it is the people themselves who know best 
what their interests are, to the view that " the toad beneath 
the harrow knows," Hegel replies, on the contrary, that the 
people " does not know what it wills. To know what we will, 
and further what the absolute will, namely, reason, wills, 
is the fruit of deep knowledge and insight, and is therefore not 
the property of the people." 1 And further, " in public 
opinion all is false and true, but to find out the truth in it is 
the affair of the great man. He who tells the time what it 
wills and means, and then brings it to completion, is the 
great man of the time." 2 

The truth, in Hegel's opinion, is that public opinion con- 
tains in substance always what is right and reasonable. For 
the individual has his basis and foundation in the universal, 
which ultimately governs and controls him, even though he 
follows it blindly and without understanding. And for this 
reason public opinion is to be esteemed. But, on the other 
hand, the " people " has not the means of making distinctions, 
of raising its vague instincts to the level of definite knowledge, 
and hence its instincts for the universal take only incoherent 
and troubled shapes. And for this reason public opinion is 
1 Phil, of Right, § 301, note. 2 Ibid., § 318, Addition. 


to be despised. " Who does not learn to despise public 
opinion . . . will never produce anything great." 1 

Thus it is not the " people," the multitudinous medley, 
the mere heap of individuals, who must rule, whether in the 
legislature or the executive. The ruling must be done by the 
universal class (598). But it is to be carefully remembered 
that membership of this class is not to be obtained through 
privilege, pedigree, birth, or wealth. Any individual, of 
whatever origin, has the right to raise himself, if he can, by 
his abilities, character and merits, to membership of the 
universal class (599). 

Sub-Section II 


626. The state as an organism is a self-enclosed unity, 
which develops its own distinctions and its own life within 
itself. It is an individual. It is not a mere aggregate, or 
heap of parts, but a single being, an organic unity. It is 
therefore a " one " which, as such, excludes other ones. Thus 
it has its internal side, which has already been dealt with ; 
and it has also its external side, which consists in its relations 
to other individuals of the same kind as itself, that is, to other 
states. These relations, so far as they are recognized and 
universalized, constitute international law. 

627. Because each state is an individual, the fundamental 
character of its relation to other states is similar to the relations 
which subsist between the individual persons in civil society 
(586). Such persons are essentially independent persons. And 
similarly the prime feature of each state, in its relations to 
other states, is its independence. Consequently the funda- 
mental right of the state in international law is that it should 
be recognized and respected as what it is, an independent 
sovereign state. Even when two states are at war they 
continue to recognize one another as independent states. 

628. The relation of state to state differs from the relation 
of person to person in civil society in this, that persons have 
over them the state, whereas states have no authority above 

1 Phil, of Right. § 318, Addition. 



them. As between states, therefore, there is no objectively 
existent sphere of universal right, as is the case between 
persons. Hence the acts of states are governed by their 
arbitrary will, and the highest form of right that can subsist 
between them must be based upon an agreement of their wills 
— the right of contract. This gives rise to treaties. The 
positive contents of treaties are not part of international law. 
International law can only enjoin in general the respect of 
such agreements. But because there is no authority above the 
states, and because the relations between them are governed, 
not by universality, but by contingency, these relations are 
continually shifting, and treaties, even if they purport to be 
binding in perpetuity, become in fact obsolete when the 
conditions which produced them change. 

629. Because there is no international authority, disputes 
between states can, in the last resort, only be settled by war. 
The dream of perpetual peace is, for Hegel, only a dream. 
Nor is he a believer in the possibility of establishing an effective 
international authority. 

630. It is in its aspect as an independent individual that the 
state is related to other states, whether in war or in peace. 
Hence the control of foreign affairs, and the decision of war 
and peace, are part of the function of that element of the state 
which embodies the moment of individuality », namely, the 

631. The supreme necessity of the state is to maintain its 
sovereign independence. For without this it ceases to be a 
state. Hence, because the life and ends of the state are higher 
than the life and ends of the individual, the individual must 
be prepared to sacrifice his life and property for the main- 
tenance of the state's independence. 

632. Because the state, even while at war, recognizes its 
opponent as a sovereign state, i.e. as a single individual, it 
must make war against that individual as such, i.e. against 
the state, and not against private persons, their property, 
families, etc. 


Sub-Section III 


633. Scates are related to each other as persons in civil 
society. In civil society persons represent the moment of 
particularity, and pursue their particular ends, needs, wants, 
etc. Hence states likewise, in their relations to one another, 
are particular, and each pursues its special interests. The 
particular is essentially the differentia between species. And 
hence each state has its own peculiar colour and features. 
Each state stands for and embodies an idea, or to be more 
exact, each state embodies a particular phase of the universal 
Idea. In history the Idea unfolds its various phases in time 
and the dominant phase at any epoch is embodied in a domin- 
ant people. The succession of these phases constitutes world- 
history, and this history is not governed by chance or blind 
fate but by the eternal reason, the Idea itself. Hence history 
is no blind medley of contingencies, but is a rational develop- 
ment. The Idea, when thus embodied in the history of the 
world is the world-spirit. It is spirit, because spirit means 
simply the concrete embodiment of the Idea. 

This world-spirit is the final tribunal and judge of the 
nations. There is no international state or court which 
passes judgment upon the peoples, and none is possible. 
The judgment ot the nations is found in the fate which awaits 
them in the process of world-history. 



634. The defect of subjective spirit was that it was merely 
inward, and so one-sided. Objective spirit, on the other 
hand, exhibited the opposite one-sidedness. It was merely 
outward and objective, and had lost what is essential to the 
very notion of spirit, namely, consciousness or subjectivity. 
Spirit as soul, as sensation, as intellect, as appetite, as under- 
standing, was conscious, personal, subjective. But spirit 
as family, as the moral law, as the state, is impersonal, un- 
conscious, and purely objective. The state, for example, 
exists out there in the objective world. But it is not a con- 
scious being, a person, an ego. It is not a subject. 

Subjective spirit and objective spirit exist, consequently, 
as two opposite extremes, each of which limits the other. 
Each is, therefore, finite. But it is the very nature of spirit 
to be infinite. Hence arises the necessity that spirit should 
transcend its finite subjectivity and its finite objectivity, and 
should become infinite and absolute spirit. In order to be 
absolute, spirit must overreach the division between sub- 
jectivity and objectivity, which it has created within itself, 
and must embrace both sides in a concrete unity. Absolute 
spirit must be both subject and object at the same time. 

As being subjective, absolute spirit will necessarily be a 
mode of human consciousness, and of individual consciousness. 
It cannot be a purely impersonal existence, such as the state. 
It must be the actual consciousness, existing in the minds of 



individual men, of some object. Only thus can absolute spirit 
satisfy the condition that it must be genuinely subjective. 

It is, therefore, the consciousness of some object. But 
what object ? Now since, in the absolute spirit, the gulf 
between subject and object is annihilated, since both are 
embraced in a unity, this can only mean that subject and 
object are, here, identical. Spirit, therefore, has for its 
object in this sphere, nothing else than spirit itself. Absolute 
spirit, therefore, is the spirit's contemplation of itself. 

But there is a further condition necessary. Even the em- 
pirical psychologist has for the object of his studies spirit or 
mind. But psychology is not a phase of the absolute spirit. 
For the object which the psychologist contemplates is only the 
finite mind, that is to say, the subjective mind as opposed to, 
and limited by, its object. The psychologist studies sensation, 
intellect, emotion, and the like. And all these phases of 
mind have objects other than themselves ; as for example, 
sensation has the material world for its object. But absolute 
spirit has for its object only itself, and is, therefore, infinite. 
In it accordingly the entire opposition between subject and 
object has been overcome. And this can only be so where the 
mind at length realizes that its object — any object — is only 
itself. The stage of absolute spirit, therefore, is only reached 
when the mind realizes that whatever is opposed to it as an 
object, the sun, moon, stars, the entire physical and non- 
physical universe, is nothing other than spirit itself ; when it 
realizes that it itself is all being and all reality, that it is, in 
fact, the Absolute. Absolute spirit is that final phase in 
which the spirit knows that in contemplating itself it is 
contemplating the Absolute. But since such absolute spirit 
only exists as subjective human consciousness, it may further 
be said that absolute spirit is the knowledge, by human beings, 
of the Absolute. All the modes under which human beings 
can be conscious of the Absolute, whether in art, religion, or 
philosophy, are phases of absolute spirit. 

Spirit and the Absolute are synonymous terms. Absolute 
spirit is, therefore, on the one hand, the knowledge of spirit 
by spirit. On the other hand it is the knowledge of the 



Absolute by the Absolute. Only in absolute spirit does the 
Absolute come to itself, come to know itself for what it truly 
is. Only as such is it truly the Absolute. For only as such 
is it self-knowing spirit. 

635. The elevation from objective spirit to absolute spirit 
may also be expressed in terms of the notion of freedom. 
The essential content of the human mind is freedom. This 
freedom is proximately realized in the state. For being 
governed by the state man is governed only by himself (575). 
Nevertheless the state, as being purely objective, is alien to 
his subjectivity, is something other than himself. And his 
freedom therein is consequently incomplete. 1 Absolutely free 
spirit can only be that spirit which has, finally and for ever, 
abolished all otherness of whatever description. Hence only 
the spirit which knows itself as all reality, which has no 
opposite, which sees in itself the whole of being, is entirely 
free. And since freedom, self-determination, and infinity, 
are but three words for the same idea, spirit as absolute spirit 
is, for the first time, out and out infinite. So far we have 
dealt only with the finite mind. But in art, religion, and 
philosophy, the human mind is infinite. 

636. Absolute spirit has for its content the apprehension 
of the Absolute. And since the Absolute and God are identical 
terms, this sphere is in general the sphere of religion, which 
is none other than the knowledge of God, the apprehension of 
the divine and eternal. The apprehension of the Absolute 
takes place under three modes, which give us the three stages 
of absolute spirit, viz. (1) art, (2) religion (the term is used 
here in its more restricted sense), and (3) philosophy. 

637. Since, as already pointed out, absolute spirit alone is 
entirely free and infinite, the above three stages are to be 
regarded as the grades of its progressive liberation from all 
finite condition. Traces of finitude still cling to the spirit 
in the spheres of art and religion. It is only in philosophy 
that it is absolutely free and infinite. 

638. As to the oft-debated question of the relations which 
art, religion, and philosophy bear to one another, it follows 

1 Osm, i. pp. 135 et seq. 


from what has been said that all three are identical in sub- 
stance, but different in form. The substance or content of 
all three is the same, viz. the eternal, infinite, and divine, in 
a word, the Absolute. The aim, or end, of all three is the appre- 
hension of the absolute truth. They differ, however, inas- 
much as the form in which the absolute truth is presented to 
consciousness, is in each case different. What those forms 
are we shall see in the following pages. For the present we 
may deduce this further conclusion from what has been 
already said, viz. that art, as the first phase, is the least 
adequate form in which the eternal is apprehended, that 
religion comes next highest, but that philosophy is the only 
absolutely adequate form of its apprehension. Further, 
since the substance of all three is the same, it is to the form 
that their relative superiority or inferiority attaches. Thus 
religion contains the same fundamental truth as philosophy, 
but expressed in an inferior form. The detailed explanation 
of these points must be left for the succeeding chapters. 




639. The first mode in which the mind apprehends the 
Absolute is, in accordance with general principles, in im- 
mediacy. Since the content of all modes of apprehending 
the Absolute is the same, viz. the Absolute itself, this im- 
mediacy must attach to the form under which it is apprehended. 
At first, therefore, the Absolute will be manifested under the 
guise of immediacy, that is to say, under the guise of external 
sense-objects. The shining of the Absolute, or the Idea, 
through the veils of the sense-world — this is beauty. 1 It is 
essential to the idea of beauty that its object should be sensu- 
ous, — an actual thing present to the senses, as a statue, a 
building, or the beautiful sound of music, or at least that it 
should be the mental image of a sensuous object, as in poetry. 
It must be individual and concrete. It cannot be an ab- 
straction. The beautiful object thus addresses itself to the 
senses. But it also addresses itself to the mind or spirit. 
For a mere sensuous existence, as such, is not beautiful. 
Only when the mind perceives the Idea shining through it is 
it beautiful. 

640. Since the Idea is the absolute truth, it follows that 
truth and beauty are identical. For both are the Idea. 
But they are also distinct. Beauty is the Idea seen in a 

1 239 above. 


sensuous form, apprehended, in art or nature, by the senses. 
Truth is the Idea seen as it is in itself, i.e. as pure thought. 
It is apprehended as such not by the senses, but by pure 
thought, i.e. by philosophy. 

641. Every phase of spirit, e.g. the family, morality, the 
state, is a phase of the Idea. In the present sphere the Idea 
is called the Ideal. The Ideal is this special form of the Idea 
as sensuously apprehended. It is the Idea, not in itself, 
but manifest in the sense-world. 

642. Now the question arises, how can the Idea, or the 
Absolute, manifest itself in a sensuous object? One must 
recollect here the account of the Idea given in the Logic. 
The Notion, as such, is not yet the Idea. The Notion is 
subjectivity (321). The Idea is the concrete unity of the 
Notion with the object, i.e. it is the unity of subjectivity and 
objectivity (382). Now when we have an object, or col- 
lection of objects, which we perceive to be constituted as a 
multiplicity comprehended in a unity, in such a case the 
factor of unity is the side of subjectivity, or the Notion, 
while the factor of plurality is the side of objectivity (383). 
Such an object, therefore, because it manifests the Idea in 
objective and sensuous form, is beautiful. It is not, however, 
merely a mechanical unity that is here required, but an 
organic unity. The different parts of the object are so 
related that they are not a mere aggregate, like a heap of 
stones. In such an aggregate the parts are indifferent to one 
another. If they are separated from the unity, from the 
aggregate, they undergo thereby no loss, but remain precisely 
what they were before. In an organic unity, on the contrary, 
the parts have no meaning except as members of the whole. 
And the unity, on the other hand, has no meaning or even 
existence, apart from the members in which it is manifested. 
The beautiful object, e.g. the work of art, is essentially an 

643. Now the first sensuous form in which the Idea mani- 
fests itself, and therefore the first form of beauty, is nature. 
Nature is the Idea in its otherness. And since the Idea is 
here not the pure Idea, the Idea as it is in itself, but rather 



the Idea buried in an external and sensuous medium, nature 
is, accordingly, beautiful. But there are degrees of beauty 
in nature. If we look at the lowest phase of nature, crass 
matter as such, we find that the Idea is so sunk and buried in 
externality as to be practically invisible. The parts of a 
lump of iron are indifferent to one another. If they are 
separated they remain what they are. Such an object, 
therefore, is scarcely to be regarded as beautiful. Rising 
somewhat higher we have such an object as the solar system. 
Here we have indeed an interdependence of the parts upon 
one another, and moreover a centre of unity, the sun. But 
the relations of the bodies of such a system are still governed 
only by mechanical laws. And moreover the unity, instead 
of being an ideal unity which pervades the members and is 
inseparable from them, is on the contrary itself a separate 
material object, the sun. The unity here is itself merely one 
of the parts. It is only when we reach the phenomena of 
organic nature, life, that we find true beauty. For in the 
living organism all the parts are bound in an ideal unity which 
is the pervading soul of the organism. The hand, when cut 
off, ceases to be a hand. As a hand it has no being apart 
from the unity of the whole. Plant and animal life, therefore, 
is beautiful, animal life more so than plant life because it 
exhibits the Idea, i.e. unity in difference, more completely. 

644. The beauty of nature, however, exhibits grave defects. 
What are above all necessary for the exhibition of true beauty 
are infinitude and freedom. The Idea, as such, is absolutely 
infinite. The Idea is constituted by three factors, viz. (i) 
the unity of the. Notion, which puts itself forth into (2) differ- 
ences, plurality, objectivity, which return again into (3) 
the concrete unity of the above two factors. Now what is 
essential here is that it is the Notion itself which puts itself 
forth into differences, and then overreaches the distinctions 
within itself which it has thus created. Its entire develop- 
ment is a development out of its own resources. It is thus 
wholly self-determined, infinite, and free. Hence the beauti- 
ful object, if it is truly to manifest the Idea, must itself be 
infinite and free. It must, as an organism, evolve all its 


differences out of itself. They must be seen to proceed out 
of the ideal unity which is its soul. 

Now it is true that the living organism, regarded as a part 
of nature, does in a sense determine itself. Nevertheless as 
being a mere link in the infinite network of the necessity of 
nature, it is unfree. The animal, for example, is wholly 
determined by its environment. Even man as a part of 
nature is thus externally determined. To a large extent he 
acts under the compulsion of his various physical and material 
needs. He is involved in that general network of necessity 
which is the universe. The beauty of nature, therefore, is 
essentially defective on account of the finitude of natural 
objects. If, therefore, the human mind is adequately to 
apprehend the Absolute in sensuous form, — which is the 
demand of spirit in the present sphere — it must rise above 
nature. It must create objects of beauty for itself. Hence 
arises the necessity for art. Art alone is truly beautiful. 
The beauty of nature is inferior to the beauty of art in the 
same degree as nature in general is inferior to spirit. For 
art is the creation of spirit. 

Critics of Hegel's aesthetics have generally urged that he 
too hastily thrusts aside the beauty of nature, and assigns 
it too low a place. This criticism is probably justified. 

645. We come, therefore, to the proper subject of aesthetics, 
the beauty of art. Every work of art presents two distinct 
sides which are however bound together in unity. These 
are (1) the side of unity. The unity is the Notion before it 
has issued forth into plurality and objectivity. The Notion, 
however, is subjectivity. This side of the work of art is, there- 
fore, essentially of a subjective nature. It is the spiritual 
meaning, the inner significance, the soul (subjectivity) of the 
work of art. It may be called in general the spiritual content 
or simply the content, of the work of art. This unity, however, 
does not remain an abstract unity closed up in itself. It 
manifests itself in (2) the plurality of differences. This is the 
objective, sensuous, material side of the work of art, and may 
be called in general the material embodiment or form. In 
architecture this material embodiment in which the Idea 



manifests itself is composed of crass matter, of stone ; in 
painting, colour or light ; in music, sound ; in poetry, mental 
image. These two sides do not fall apart but are bound 
together in perfect unity. When we have the Idea thus 
completely embodied in a material form, we have the 
perfection of the Ideal. 

646. Since the work of art is to be infinite, free, and self- 
determined, it will exclude from its material side whatever 
exists in pure externality and contingency, whatever, in fact, 
cannot be shown as wholly issuing out of, and determined by, 
the inner unity or spiritual content. Thus in portrait paint- 
ing, such pure externalities as warts on the skin, scars, pores, 
pimples, etc., will be left out. For these do not exhibit any- 
thing of the inner soul, the subjectivity, which has to appear 
in manifestation. Art does not slavishly imitate nature. On 
the contrary it is just this pure externality and meaningless 
contingency of nature that it has to get rid of. In so far as 
it takes natural objects as its subject matter at all, its function 
is to divest them of the unessential, soulless, crass concatena- 
tion of contingencies and externalities which surround them 
and obscure their meaning, and to exhibit solely those traits 
which manifest the inner soul or unity. 

647. And if the function of art is not the imitation of 
nature, neither does it consist in moral instruction. To use 
art as a means of instruction is to do violence to the infinity 
which we have seen to be essential to it. For only that 
which is an end in itself is infinite. That which is made a 
means to a further end, which is outside itself, is thereby 
subordinated to, and determined by, that which is other than 
itself. And art, as self-determined, must be an end in itself. 

648. It is for the same reason, viz. the freedom and in- 
finity of art, that the artist so often takes his subject matter 
from a past age, and preferably from what is called the 
heroic age. A highly civilized age is not the most suitable as 
the subject matter of art. In epic and dramatic poetry, for 
example, it is necessary that the characters should appear 
essentially free and self-determined. They must be inde- 
pendent beings, whose entire activities issue out of themselves, 


and are not imposed upon them from outside. But in a 
highly organized state human activities are determined by 
custom, law, and in general the pressure of organized society. 
Herein man appears unfree. By the heroic age is meant that 
age when great independent characters were still possible. 
What they did they did solely out of the resources of their 
own natures. A loosely knit state of society, where every 
man is his own master, and where none have yet become 
mere cogs in the machine of the civilized state, is best suited 
to exhibit such self-determined freedom and independence. 
The heroes of the Iliad, Achilles, Ajax, and the rest, are 
indeed subject nominally to the leadership of Agamemnon. 
Yet all the heroes are, in fact, absolutely their own inde- 
pendent masters. They come and go as they please, fight 
or not as they please. Achilles, conceiving himself insulted, 
withdraws in anger from the fray and refuses to assist the 
Greeks. Agamemnon never thinks of commanding Achilles 
to return. He can at most attempt to persuade. A similar 
state of society occurred in the feudal ages of modern Europe, 
where the knights, nominally subject to the king, were in fact 
entirely their own masters. 

Characters drawn from the present day are, on the con- 
trary, tied hand and foot by every sort of social customs, 
institutions, usages, laws. Hence, as appearing unfree, they 
are less suitable subjects for art. Hegel does not, of course, 
force this idea too far. He does not go the length of saying, 
what is manifestly untrue, that the artist cannot use modern 
subjects ; but only that such subjects afford greater difficulties 
to the skill of the artist. Art also shows a manifest preference 
for the order of princes. This is not out of snobbishness, but 
because princes are independent and free. They are under 
no control save their own. 

649. It is for the same reason that everything which the 
heroes of ancient epic use in the way of implements, weapons, 
tools, even food and drink, are represented in art as forged or 
made by themselves, as, in a sense, issuing from their own 
freedom and their own acts. The hero himself slays and cooks 
his meat. His food and drink are of those kinds in the 



gathering or preparation of which he can himself do all that is 
necessary — honey, milk, butter, cheese. Such beverages as 
beer, tea, coffee, brandy, are prosaic because they remind us 
of the complicated chain of causes and effects necessary to 
bring them to our lips, because they remind us, that is, of the 
conditions of unfreedom. 

650. Where art depicts its characters as subject to pain, 
suffering, and disaster, it will, nevertheless, never exhibit 
them as wholly overwhelmed thereby. Their essential 
liberty and freedom must not be crushed out of existence. 
Amid all suffering they will remain masters of themselves, 
and assert their freedom. Again and again will the spirit, 
torn and shattered in the conflicts of the world, restore itself 
out of this disunion, return upon itself, upon its own essential 
unity and repose. Hegel instances a picture of Murillo's. 
A troop of beggar boys are here depicted. One is being 
scolded by his mother as he munches a piece of bread. Two 
others, hard by, ragged and poor, are eating melons. But 
in this very poverty and desolation what gleams forth, as the 
soul of the picture, is the complete carelessness and spon- 
taneity, the inward liberty of this beggar life. It may be that, 
as in tragedy, the conflict and suffering end in the destruction 
of the mere physical lives of the characters — but not in the 
destruction of their spiritual freedom. They remain true to 
themselves, and to their essential being. They accept their 
fate as itself a necessary outcome of their own actions, and 
therefore as issuing from their free will. 

651. The soul, or spiritual content, of a work of art is 
everywhere the Absolute, that is to say, thought, or the 
universal. What is absolutely particular, contingent, or 
capricious, will find no place in it. Consequently where it is 
human life that is depicted, it will be the essential, universal, 
rational, interests of humanity that will form its substance — 
the core of human life, the moving forces of the spirit